Malibu Stakes 2022: Taiba Turns on the speed

The top-class and still improving Taiba showed his rivals a clean pair of heels in the G1 Malibu Stakes 2022 at Santa Anita on Monday, driving clear to win his third top-level race of the year and cement his claims for an Eclipse Award.

Malibu Stakes

G1, $300,000, 7f dirt, 3yo

Taiba turns on the speed

The cutback in distance was no problem at all for Taiba, who demonstrated his brilliance and versatility with a dominant victory in the feature Malibu at Santa Anita on Monday.

The son of Gun Runner had made his name with two G1 scores at a mile-eighth, but was 2-5 favorite to show that he had plenty of speed too and didn’t disappoint, maintaining his unbeaten record at Santa Anita in the process.

Taiba sat just off the front-running Forbidden Kingdom until moving to the lead at the top of the lane and quickening away to win by an easy four and a quarter lengths, stopping the clock in 1:21 and three-fifths and topping a bonanza five-winner day for trainer Bob Baffert. Forbidden Kingdom dug in hard to save second spot and longshot Hoist The Gold rallied for third, beaten a further three-quarters of a length.

“That horse is like a bike, and you have to keep pedalling,” said jockey Mike Smith, who was busy on Taiba throughout. “Going long you don’t have to do it as much, but I knew that going short it would be tough.”

The victory pushed Taiba into contention for the Eclipse Award for three-year-old colt, which now looks a straight fight between he and Travers winner Epicenter. Taiba’s next target may be the $20 million Saudi Cup in February, although connections also have Country Grammer for that race.

2022 Malibu Stakes Race Video

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