ARCADIA, Calif. -- Charlatan tracked favorite Nashville to the quarter pole and then drew off to a 4½-length victory in the $300,000 Malibu Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita's opening day.
Ridden for the first time by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Charlatan ran seven furlongs in 1 minute, 21.50 seconds. Trained by fellow Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, the chestnut colt had been idle since May 2.
Charlatan paid $5.20, $3.60 and $2.60 as the 8-5 second choice.
It was the first loss for Nashville, who had won his first three starts by a combined 24¾ lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The colt finished fourth behind Charlatan, beaten by 8¼ lengths as the 6-5 favorite.
"There was a really good horse he was chasing," Baffert said. "With what this horse has been through, I'm just happy for the whole team and everybody involved, to show he is a really special horse."
Charlatan also came into Saturday's Grade 1 race unbeaten in three starts. However, his most recent victory in a division of the Arkansas Derby on May 2 resulted in a disqualification because of a medication violation. The colt has three wins in four starts and career earnings of $247,200.
Express Train returned $13.40 and $6 at 16-1 odds. Collusion Illusion was a half-length back in third and paid $3 to show at 10-1.