ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) Runhappy led all the way in a 3 1/2-length victory in the $300,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds on opening day of Santa Anita's winter meet Saturday.
Ridden by Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, Runhappy ran seven furlongs in 1:21.76 and paid $3, $2.60 and $2.10 as the 1-2 favorite in the Grade 1 race.
Marking returned $4 and $3 as the 9-2 second choice, while Lord Nelson was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.20 to show for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
The crowd of 44,873 was the largest on opening day since Dec. 26, 1994.
Runhappy was coming off a victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Keeneland on Oct. 31. The next day, owner James McIngvale fired trained Maria Borell and replaced her with racing manager Laura Wohlers.
''The horse ran really well,'' McIngvale said. ''The entire team did a great job of preparing him, and the people at Santa Anita have been great, so it's been a top-notch experience all the way around.''
Stevens replaced injured Edgar Prado aboard Runhappy.
''Edgar and I had a couple of conversations earlier in the week when I found out I was going to ride this horse and he told me quite a few things about him that helped me,'' Stevens said.
The victory, worth $180,000, increased Runhappy's career earnings to $1,481,300, with seven wins in eight starts and his sixth in a row.
In the $300,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Birdatthewire rallied late to win by a half-length.
Ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Birdatthewire ran seven furlongs in 1:22.31 and paid $23.80, $10 and $5.80 at 10-1 odds.
Hot City Girl returned $5.40 and $3.20, while 7-5 favorite Cavorting was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $2.60 to show in the Grade 1 race.
The victory, worth $180,000, increased Birdatthewire's career earnings to $569,090, with four wins in 11 starts for trainer Dale Romans.
In the $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile for 3-year-olds, 6-5 favorite Om won by 1 3/4 lengths under Stevens.
Om ran a mile on turf in 1:35.57 and paid $4.40, $3 and $2.60 for trainer Dan Hendricks.
Perfectly Majestic returned $14 and $7.40, while Vigilante was another 4 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $5 to show.
The victory, worth $120,000, increased Om's career earnings to $550,500, with five wins in 10 starts.
In the $100,000 Daytona Stakes, Toowindytohaulrox caught pacesetter Rocket Heat 40 yards from the finish line and won by a neck.
Ridden by Tiago Pereira, Toowindytohaulrox ran 6 1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course in 1:14.26 and paid $44.60, $19.20 and $9.40 at 21-1 odds.
Coastline returned $46.60 and $20.80, while Rocket Heat was another neck back in third and paid $16.20 to show.
The victory, worth $60,000, increased Toowindytohaulrox's career earnings to $310,392, with four wins in 19 starts.