Before you say, no horse is unbeatable, he certainly looks to be the strongest of the contenders, but if he goes off at 4/5 I’d suggest he was unbettable. Let’s look at the field for the Malibu.
Conquest Two Step won a 6 1/2 downhill on the turf last out, and that was his first win of the year. Even off of his best, he looks nowhere good enough to win this race.
Chitu is a horse that prefers running near the front as he demonstrated in his races leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He hung around in the Derby for a little over a mile, ultimately finishing in the middle of the field. I think Baffert smartly gave him a break until the Damascus Stakes where Chitu comfortably beat a decent field, including Midnight Hawk. Based on his past performance and that last race, he looks like a seven furlong horse. He’s likely to have the jump on Shared Belief and that makes him dangerous. Baffert normally works his horses fast, and if the quick works tip the horse’s form, he is in good condition.
Indianapolis had no chance in the BC Sprint after a sluggish start, but he did manage to pick up some lengths in the stretch. He’s normally been a tracking horse, and in this field he is likely to do the same. His number from the sprint is somewhat artificial, especially considering his 10th place finish, but he did run the last quarter in 23 2/5, which is real racehorse time. Still, he lack some of the experience of the others, and his win in the San Pedro had to be downgraded due to the very short field. At best it looks like he is there for a while, but unlikely to hold off the classier animals.
Rprettyboyfloyd is another that seems destined for no better than a lesser award. He’s been fair at the distance, and at 30/1 ML there aren’t too many offering the horse a reasonable chance. I think he’s better than 30-1 but I have reservations about using him today.
Pimpenel ran well in an OC$62 last out -in fact, it was a lifetime best for him. He’s the lesser of the Baffert runners, but you can never discount where BB places his charges. He’s a three year old with a lot of upside and is likely the front speed out of the gate. Interesting at 10-1.
Midnight Hawk peaked early in the year, barely losing the Illinois Derby to Dynamic Impact. That one has only come back once and did not run a particularly good race. Midnight Hawk had no chance in the Damascus after bobbling at the start and running wide, but did come back with a fair race at Del Mar in the late fall meeting. Probably the least of the Baffert runners and at 6-1 ML, sitting at optimistic odds.
Tamarando has spent a career on the turf and synthetic, and would be a big surprise here today.
Shared Belief has shown a lot of versatility, winning from 6 furlongs to a mile and a quarter. If not for the trouble in the BC Classic (http://halveyonhorseracing.com/?s=The+Butterfly+Effect) Shared Belief had a chance to remain undefeated. He is inarguably the fastest and most accomplished horse in the race. If you are trying to make a case against him it may be that he’ll be dependent on the pace setup from the Baffert runners, but bet against him at your own peril. He has an accelerator button that few others in here can match.
Diamond Bachelor is 20-1 on the ML and he looks outless at any odds.
Frensham is an interesting entry for Doug O’Neill. He’s mostly started on the turf and really hasn’t distinguished himself. Nothing I see recommends him.
In summary, Shared Belief looks head and shoulders above this field, but the Baffert runners, Chitu and Pimpernel, both look interesting. Mike Smith will need to keep Shared Belief clear because if he has an open run in the stretch it is hard to imagine he doesn’t get by everyone.