Speed Boat Beach Victorious in G1 Malibu for Baffert

December 26, 2023

Speed Boat Beach speediest of them all in the Malibu (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— In a stretch battle befitting it’s status as Santa Anita’s Classic Meet opening day headliner, Tuesday’s Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes showcased Speed Boat Beach and stablemate Hejazi as they “threw down” from the quarter pole home. With favored Speed Boat Beach prevailing by 1 ½ lengths while getting seven furlongs in 1:21.70, Bob Baffert collected the exacta as well as his record-tying sixth Malibu win, putting him atop the prestigious Malibu heap with fellow Hall of Famer Richard Mandella.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Hejazi broke sharply to take the lead from his number six post position, but he was headed by Speed Boat Beach and Flavien Prat to his inside a half mile out. Racing as a team into and around the far turn, it appeared Hejazi put a head in front at the quarter pole, but when they straightened for home, Speed Boat Beach was all business, opening up a length and from there, he was able to repel a resolute challenge from Hejazi to register his first Grade I win.

Prat, who hadn’t ridden Speed Boat Beach since Dec. 4, 2022, rang up his third win on the opening day card and his second win in the Malibu, following up on his opening day score a year ago aboard undefeated super horse Flightline.

A Florida-bred 3-year-old colt by 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern, out of the Pioneerof the Nile mare Sophia Mia, Speed Boat Beach, who making his third start of the year, came off a fourth place finish in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint here on Nov. 4 was off as the 8-5 favorite in a field seven sophomores and paid $5.20, $3.20 and $2.60.

Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Speed Boat Beach, a Grade III one mile turf winner, notched his third overall graded stakes win and his fourth win from seven starts. With the winner’s share of $180,000, Speed Boach Beach hiked his earnings to $498,000.

Off as the second choice at 2-1, Hejazi finished three lengths clear of Giant Mischief and paid $4.00 and $2.60.

Off at 10-1 with Kazushi Kimura, Giant Mischief, who broke from the rail, rallied for third money, finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of Damon’s Mound while returning $4.00 to show.

Fractions on the race were 22.21, 44.42 and 1:08.65.

The Malibu trophy was presented by Santa Anita’s all-time leading rider and a six-time winner of the Malibu, the great Laffit Pincay, Jr. A 14-time Winter Meet leading jockey, Pincay will turn 77 on Friday.

GRADE I, $300,000 MALIBU STAKES QUOTES

JOCKEY QUOTES

FLAVIEN PRAT, SPEED BOAT BEACH, WINNER: “He was really sharp early. I got him to relax and we took a little breather. Around the turn, he really went well. He didn’t mind being on the inside. He was really in a good rhythm today.”

TRAINER QUOTES

BOB BAFFERT, SPEED BOAT BEACH, WINNER: “His issue is that he has always been very aggressive. He’s aggressive in the mornings and aggressive in his races. We have been working on getting him relaxed, a lot of schooling. I’ve got a great team, my riders and my assistants they have been working him a lot. Prat worked him for me today and he actually worked really well with Prat. He got along with him really well, got him to come off the bit a little bit. I was worried about my other horses they were going to be in there with him. It is a good feeling, turning for home I knew I was going to win it. I wasn’t sure which one it was going to be, I would have liked to run one, two, three. Speed Boat Beach has always shown since his first out that he was something special, hopefully he can build from this.

“Hejazi, He is a serious horse. He was a little bit keen today. We weren’t able to train this last week. Juan was telling me he couldn’t get him to relax very well so he used himself up a little bit. I see big things for him down the road.”

PRESENTER QUOTES

LAFFIT PINCAY, JR., PRESENTER, WINNER: “It means a lot to be here and see all the fans and all the excitement in racing. It brings back some good memories too. I won this race six times and in fact I forgot all about it. It’s a lot of fun to come to the track and see all the people here, I really enjoy being here. It’s exciting to see two good horses going head and head. I look forward to seeing who the next contenders are for the Kentucky Derby. I watch the jockeys and there are some really top jockeys here and I hope they keep competing with each other. It’s nice to see competition between good jockeys.”

NOTES: The winning owners are Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.

@jonathanstettin Brilliant as always. Agree with everything you said. Thank you! ! 🙂

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