Kentucky-bred Taiba added a third Grade 1 victory to his resume on Monday, Dec. 26, with a facile score in the $300,000 Malibu S. (G1) on opening day at Santa Anita.
Ridden by regular pilot Mike Smith, Taiba chased pacesetter Forbidden Kingdom from second through the early stages of the seven-furlong affair. Taiba moved to leader three wide into the far turn and launched his bid between rivals past the five-sixteenths pole. Under confident handling, he took command around the bend and repelled a bid from Straight No Chaser to the eighth pole before edging clear from Forbidden Kingdom late to score by 4 ¼ lengths, stopping the clocking in 1:21.75.
The Malibu win followed victories by Taiba earlier this season in both the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). He also finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and was runner-up in the Haskell Stakes (G1), defeated by just a head by fellow Kentucky-bred Cyberknife.
Taiba, who was sent off as the odds-on favorite in the Malibu, now boasts a record of 7-4-1-1 and the $180,000 winner’s share of the purse increased his lifetime bankroll to $1,956,200 for Zedan Racing Stables and trainer Bob Baffert. By Gun Runner and out of the Flatter mare Needmore Flattery, Taiba was a $1.7 million acquisition at the Fasig-Tipton March Sale. Taiba was bred in the Bluegrass by Bruce Ryan.