Malibu Stakes Predictions, Betting Odds, Top Picks (Santa Anita)

Malibu Stakes Post Position and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 BABY YODA 12/1
J Ortiz W Mott
U Rispoli R Hess Jr
K Desormeaux E Moger Jr
J J Hernandez M Glatt
F Prat J Sadler
M Gutierrez D O’Neill
J Velazquez B Baffert

Best Bets for the Malibu Stakes

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$20 Trifecta – Dr. Schivel over Flightline over Stilleto Boy = $20

$15 Trifecta – Flightline over Dr. Schivel over Stilleto Boy = $15

$10 Trifecta – Dr. Schivel over Stilleto Boy over Flightline = $10

$5 Trifecta – Flightline over Stilleto Boy over Dr. Schivel = $5

If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Dr. Schivel (9/5)

Malibu Stakes

Unbeaten in two ultra-impressive starts, the John Sadler trained Flightline squares off against the two-time Grade 1 winner Dr. Schivel and five others as a field of seven sophomores are set to do battle in Santa Anita’s Opening Day headliner, the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Sunday.

A son of Tapit, Flightline made a memorable debut at Santa Anita back on April 24. He won the 6 furlong maiden race by 13 ¼ lengths in sharp time. He returned to rave reviews on September 5 and once again ran away from his competition in a 6-furlong allowance at Del Mar, winning by 12 ¾ lengths in a final time of 1:08 flat.

Meanwhile, Dr. Schivel could be one win away from securing the Eclipse Award as America’s top sprinter. A heartbreaking loss by a nose last time in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint was the Mark Glatt-trained colt’s first loss of the year. He had previously been perfect in three starts in 2021, including a win in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby against older runners.

Not to be dismissed by the hype of the top two is the Bob Baffert-trained Triple Tap. The regally bred son of Tapit joins Flightline in bringing a perfect 2-for-2 record into Sunday’s Malibu.

Malibu Stakes Analysis


A $1 million yearling purchase, this son of Tapit has certainly looked like money well spent in his first two career races. He could not have been more impressive in dominating a maiden and then an allowance, both at 6 furlongs, which came in April and September at Santa Anita and Del Mar respectively. The fact that his races have been spread out is a concern, but it seems they know what they have and are being very cautious in hoping to have a champion in 2022. They might at that, but this will be his first big test after being completely untested in his first two runaway victories. I do believe that the John Sadler trained colt is a budding star, but in Dr. Schivel, he has found a very serious opponent, who is tenfold more battle tested. He is obviously a huge threat, but I am going with his more seasoned opponent in this intriguing Grade 1 match-up.

Dr. Schivel

This son of Violence, trained by Mark Glatt has proven to be a top-notch sprinter in eight career races. After running third and then second in his first two starts early on as a juvenile, he proceeded to rattle off five straight wins over the past two seasons. Two of those wins were in Grade 1 races, but I like his last two efforts even better. First, he overcame an equipment malfunction to still dominate in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. Then he chased a blistering pace in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and took over in the stretch, before getting just nipped on the wire by a talented closer. Still relatively lightly raced, anything but another outstanding effort would be a surprise. Only a super performance by Flightline is likely to beat him here. He is the top pick.

Triple Tap

This son of the top sire Tapit is a half-brother to the Triple Crown-winning champion American Pharoah. With a pedigree like that, you know he is going to be well-liked, and he has done little wrong in winning his first two career starts. His record is very much like Flightline, in that he has also had his races spread out, with a layoff following his debut. Like the race favorite, he could be any kind, but he has certainly not been as impressive in winning, as had Flightline. This will be a very tough step up in class, and because of that, I am going to take a stand against him this time. He has the looks of a Grade 1 type of talent, but I will look for bigger odds to play with the top two.

Stilleto Boy

An impressive winner of the Iowa Derby in July, this gelded son of Shackleford has made a home for himself in Southern California. This will be his fifth consecutive assignment since coming west and he has yet to be embarrassed in the first four. Two consecutive solid efforts behind Medina Spirit, including a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Awesome Again, were followed by the daunting task of the 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was no match for Knicks Go, but he was able to finish ahead of some very nice horses while finishing fifth. He is the only horse in the field who actually gets a class break here, and will likely be ignored at the betting windows once again. He is the long shot I will use in the exotics.

Baby Yoda

This son of Prospective impressed this summer with two sharp wins at Saratoga. In the second of those wins, he earned one of the higher Beyer Speed Figures of the year. Unfortunately, he has not been able to parlay that allowance score in two-stakes attempts since then. He was a troubled third in the Grade 2 Vosburgh, but well beaten by the winner. He then found trouble again as the favorite in the Steel Valley Sprint, and failed to hit the board. Perhaps with a good trip on Sunday, he can return to his best form, but I still question whether that will be enough against the top ones in here.

Team Merchants

A stakes winner on the turf two starts back for trainer Doug O’Neill, this son of Nyquist will look to bounce back from a 13th-place finish last time in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. He does have some ability to sprint on the dirt, having won a nice maiden at Saratoga last year, and a solid allowance race at Del Mar this year. In fact, the 7 furlongs should suit him, as he seems to have a nice turn of foot at races a mile or last. Of course, the problem is the competition he will see on Sunday. His most comparable effort to date came when he faced Medina Spirit in the Shared Belief four months ago. He was not embarrassed, but no match down the stretch. I like others better.

Timeless Bounty

This Michigan-bred turned in a career-best performance last time when he rallied up wide to get the win in the Steel Valley Sprint at his home base of Mahoning Valley in Ohio. It was an unexpected result given that he had been claimed two times in the months leading up to the richest race at the track. Now he hopes to parlay the success by heading west for this Grade 1 test. He’s a solid sprinter, who proved that he could run with good horses last time, but this one will likely be too much for the son of Elusive Hour.

How to Watch the Malibu Stakes

Malibu Stakes Race Information
What Malibu Stakes (Grade 1)
Location Santa Anita
Time Sunday, December 26 — 6:30pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $300,000

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

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