by Jeremy Plonk
December 28, 2020
Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.
December 21-27, 2020
Owner: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Frederick Hertrich III, John Fielding and Golconda Stables
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith
Performance: Away since being disqualified in May’s Arkansas Derby, Charlatan made a triumphant return in the Dec. 26 Grade 1 $300,000 Malibu with perhaps the most impressive performance of his career. He pressed lightning-fast and previously unbeaten Nashville through the opening five furlongs before taking over the last quarter-mile of the Malibu. Charlatan dispatched his rival with ease, and drew away by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:21.50 for 7 furlongs. Nashville wound up more than 8 lengths behind in fourth.
On Tap: A big-money date is on tap for Charlatan stretching back out in distance next. Expect to see him in either the Jan. 23 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park or the Feb. 22 Saudi Cup in the Middle East. The barn also has defending Pegasus World Cup winner Mucho Gusto. In the event Charlatan can’t make one of those previously mentioned races, the home game in March’s Santa Anita Handicap remains a possibility.
Honorable Mentions: Santa Anita’s Dec. 26 opening day card also boasted a sharp effort from Duopoly in her wire-to-wire Grade 1 American Oaks score on turf for Chad Brown. At Laurel, Whereshetoldmetogo continued his red-hot form Dec. 26 with a 1:08.55 performance over 6 furlongs in the Dave’s Friend Stakes. And finally, Colonel Liam wrapped up his sophomore season in style Dec. 26 in Gulfstream Park’s Tropical Park Derby. His handy win by 3-1/4 lengths points to a fruitful 4-year-old campaign to come.