For the most part, a colt is judged based on what he does in his three-year old year. Often times, horses which were never cut out for the Triple Crown end up hitting the reset button at the end of the year and become either turf horses or sprinters. In this case, several who have gone from distance racers to sprinters will be trying their hand at the Malibu Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.
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1: Pain and Misery 20/1
2: Marking 5/2
3: Watershed 4/1
4: Runhappy 6/5
5: El Kabeir 8/1
6: Bad Read Sanchez 30/1
7: Lord Nelson 5/1
Runhappy is clearly the favorite at the Malibu Stakes, and we wouldn't be shocked if he goes off as the odds-on favorite on Saturday. However, he's got some company at the top of the field with Marking at 5 to 2 and Watershed at 4 to 1. Even Lord Nelson at 5 to 1 is going to get plenty of run, while El Kabeir, Pain and Misery and Bad Read Sanchez finish out this field.
FAVORITE TO FOLLOW
Trainer Laura Wohlers tried her hand with Runhappy in one distance race at the LeComte Stakes and quickly realized that her colt was destined to be a sprinter. He finished ninth that day at the LeComte, and though he wasn't nearly that bad, his wasn't winning even if he had a good run.
Aside from that, Runhappy is unbeaten when running just one turn, and he is largely regarded as the best sprinter in the world. He'll get off to a good start for sure at the Malibu Stakes, but even if by chance he doesn't, he showed great closing speed at the Breeders' Cup Sprint, coming from off the pace to win in the final furlong.
UNDERDOG TO WATCH
We're actually not ruling out El Kabeir at this point. He was one of the top three-year olds in New York this year, but he was pulled out of the Kentucky Derby with an injury. Since that point, he has been a sprinter and a relatively successful one at that.
We love that five-furlong workout he had late last week, breezing in 59 and 4, and if that's any indication of what he's capable of at the Malibu Stakes, he'll be in it with a fight at a long price.
ANALYSIS AND PREDICTION
Still, the best horse in this field by far is Runhappy, and it's a gift if we can get him at less than odds on. Marking has put up two good races in his career, but he's largely untested against good fields. Watershed has already proven to not be able to beat Runhappy, finishing fourth against him in an 11-horse field at the Kings Bishop Stakes in August in spite of the fact that he turned an awesome 101 Beyer Speed Rating.
That's why we're just going with the chalk. When Runhappy is at his best, he isn't being beaten. No one in this field has the ability to put up a 111 Beyer as he did at the Kings Bishop, and even when he wasn't at his best at the Breeders' Cup, he was still able to get the win against clearly superior competition.
The Malibu Stakes might be a Grade 1 race, but the field isn't good enough to keep Runhappy from hitting the line first.
Play Runhappy to win the Malibu Stakes
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