Playing with, and against, Flightline in the Malibu Stakes

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December 25th, 2021

One of the more anticipated races of the weekend will take place at Santa Anita on Sunday. The $300,000 Malibu S. (G1) over seven furlongs features an electric field of seven, led by the ultra-impressive #5 Flightline (4-5). Trained by John Sadler, the $1 million son of Tapit has been simply awesome from a pair of dominant wins to date, earning lofty Brisnet Speed figures of 105 and 117 along the way.

Flightline has won by a combined 25 lengths from those performances without being asked for his best, and we have no idea how high the ceiling might be for the sophomore colt. In his six-furlong debut at Santa Anita in April, the Kentucky-bred led soon after the break and never looked back en route to an eye-popping victory. He then came back to do the same at Del Mar in September and has trained in swift fashion ever since, recording bullet drills in five of his last seven works.

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Flightline won in stunning fashion on Sept. 5 at Del Mar with a 117 Brisnet Speed Rating (Photo by Benoit Photography)

Flavien Prat will return to the silks aboard the exciting youngster, who received a very good draw outside all but one of his foes. The bay will force the issue from the outset.

Multiple Grade 1 victor #4 Dr. Schivel (5-2) is a nose shy from being unbeaten, a Breeders’ Cup winner, as well as a possible champion, this year. The bay son of Violence is a worthy adversary for Flightline, boasting an 8-5-2-1 lifetime mark with that recent second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Trained by Mark Glatt, the bay can adapt to virtually any pace scenario, and he would be of no surprise under Juan Hernandez who inherited the mount.

I believe that #3 Stilleto Boy (12-1) is an excellent value contender for the vertical exotics. Now in the hands of Ed Moger after being purchased publicly in November, the Grade 3 winner was a decent fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last time out. The gelded chestnut has shown improvement since removing blinkers three back, and his lone try on the oval resulted in a runner-up result in the Awesome Again S. (G1). Regular pilot Kent Desormeaux will be up.

Bob Baffert’s #7 Triple Tap (5-1) is unblemished from two career tries, led by a fine allowance romp at Del Mar in November. The lightly raced Tapit colt, who is a half-brother to the mighty American Pharoah, faces a tall task on Sunday but continues to train like a serious horse with numerous bullet drills on the surface. The chestnut will have a speedy early tempo to rally at approaching the turn for home under John Velazquez.

And if #1 Baby Yoda (6-1) can prove that he is more than a Saratoga specialist, then he can surely impact the result of the race for conditioner Bill Mott. The gelding was awesome in his two summer engagements, though his last pair of outings left something to be desired. Jose Ortiz rides.

Flightline – With

  • $10 superfecta 5 with 4 with 3, 7 with 1, 3, 7 ($40)
  • $1 superfecta key 5 with 1, 3, 4, 7 ($24)

Flightline – Against

  • $10 trifecta 4 with 3, 5 with 1, 3, 5, 7 ($60)