The morning line favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby, Richard Mandella's Omaha Beach rates top billing in the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes, one of seven graded offerings on opening day, Saturday, December 28 at Santa Anita Park.
The Runhappy Malibu, for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, has attracted a field of five, including this year's Santa Anita Derby winner, Roadster and Chad Brown's Grade I winning Complexity, who ships in from his South Florida base.
A striking dark bay or brown colt by War Front, Omaha Beach, who took both the Grade II Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby this past spring at Oaklawn Park, was forced to miss the Kentucky Derby due to an entrapped epiglottis. Following surgery and a lengthy rehab, Omaha Beach resurfaced in the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 5 and he prevailed by a head over eventual Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up Shancelot.
Subsequently second as the even money favorite in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile here on Nov. 2, Omaha Beach will be making his final Southern California start on Thursday, as he's due to be retired to stud following the Grade I, $ 3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25.
Owner: Fox Hill Farms, Inc. | Trainer: Richard Mandella
Winless in four starts since winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 6, this grey colt by Quality Road was a disappointing fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade III Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 23 and will thus be cutting back in distance from a mile and one eighth.
A close third to stablemate Game Winner in his only try at seven furlongs, the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3, Roadster has trained well for the Malibu and will get the services of Joel Rosario.
Owner: Speedway Stable, LLC | Trainer: Bob Baffert
A winner of the Grade I Champagne Stakes going a one turn mile at Belmont Park in only his second start at age two, Complexity was then distanced in both the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2, 2018 and the Grade I Woody Stephens at Belmont Park two starts back on June 9.
Subsequently freshened by Brown, Complexity exits a freakish 7 ¼ length win going seven furlongs in a second condition allowance at Aqueduct Nov. 20.
Owner: Klaravich Stables, Inc. | Trainer: Chad Brown