Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Seven Salty Sophomores Looking For Derby Points
2014 (GII) Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Seven Salty Sophomores Looking For Derby Points: The (GII) 2014 Robert B. Lewis Stakes takes place this Saturday, February 8, 2014 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. It’s raced at the distance of 1 1/16 miles on the dirt for 3 year-olds with a purse of $200,000 and is one of the key prep races leading to the Santa Anita Derby each year. Until 1964, the race was open to horses three years of age and older with the exception of 1940. SEE RESULTS
Inaugurated as the Santa Catalina Handicap in 1935, there was no race in 1936. Upon its return in 1937, it was run as the Santa Catalina California-Bred Championship Stakes until 1940 when it was renamed the Santa Catalina Nursery Stakes and was a three-furlong race for two-year-olds. In 1941 it reverted to its original name, the Santa Catalina Handicap and remained as that until 1964 when it became the Santa Catalina Stakes. In 2007, the race was renamed again in order to honor the prominent racehorse owner Robert B. Lewis who had died in 2006.
Due to restrictions and consolidations during World War II, there was no race held from 1942 through 1944. This race has been run at a variety of distances that I won’t go into and they have finally left it alone at 1 1/16 the past two years. The race record is held by Crown of Thorns for Richard Mandella with a time of 1:40.26 at this distance. Last year, Flashback won this race for Bob Baffert in 1:42.95.
The 2014 Robert B. Lewis Stakes is the 8th race of the day at Santa Anita Park on Saturday with a post time of 4:00 pm PST and will award 10-4-2-1 points to the top-four finishers on the road to the Kentucky Derby. This looks like a small but nice field of seven youngsters looking for Derby points so lets take a look at a few I like.
The CashCall Futurity runner-up son of Candy Ride/She’s An Eleven/In Excess, Candy Boy, recently worked 6f for trainer John Sadler in 1:13.00, 7/18 flat on February 1, 2014 while training for this Saturdays race and clocked a nice 5f bomb in 59.60, 4/70 on January 18th. This sophomore ran second to Shared Belief last out on December 4, 2013 in the CashCall going 1 1/16 on the cushion at Hollywood Park where he ran between horses early, stalked while on the rail came out around and made a gutsy move 3 deep in the backstretch where at the second turn he gained the lead to drift in and hang on for second. It took him four tries to break his maiden and he finally did so at Hollywood Park on November 22, 2013 winning it by 8 1/4 lengths going 1 1/16. He has a race record of 5:1:2.
Candy Boy does have a race on the sod where he ran second to Tap It Rich on October 12, 2013 going a mile at Santa Anita and has been working really well here this past month. These Candy Ride babies are the bomb and I love the Cryptoclearance connection from the Florida Derby back in the day. His race in the CashCall looked better to me than it does on paper and breaking from post #1 with Gary Stevens up again can’t be all bad either.
The Bob Baffert trained Midnight Hawk, son of Midnight Lute/Miss Wineshine/Wolf Power worked 5f on the dirt at Santa Anita on February 2nd, where he broke 6-8 lengths behind Awesome Baby, wore his workmate down to finish a half-length in front at the wire in 1:00.60, 18/71. He was timed going out 7f in 1:26 by a private clocker. This unbeaten boy was last seen in the (GIII) Sham Stakes on January 11, 2014 at Santa Anita which was pretty much a two-horse race between him and Kristo all the way down to the final sixteenth of a mile, but with only a four horse field, that was not surprising. Midnight Hawk raced without blinkers for the first time in the one mile event and earned himself 10 points on the road to the Kentucky Derby. He’ll be looking to double his points here and will be stretching out to 1 1/16. His only other race is his maiden-breaking 6 1/4 length victory on December 13, 2013 at Hollywood Park going 7 1/2f. Midnight Hawk breaks from post #3 with Mike Smith in the saddle.
Call me crazy but I’m giving the Patrick Biancone trained Diamond Bachelor one more shot on the dirt here. He is well-accomplished on the turf and after that 9th place finish in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on the dirt, he’s unproven yet to me on that surface. The son of War Front/Seasonal/Pulpit won first out going a mile on the turf on August 8th, 2013 at Del Mar and followed that up with a one mile turf win in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf September 4, 2013 also at Del Mar. He was subsequently beaten in the Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita on October 6th, 2013 by 3/4 of a length and came in second.
Diamond Bachelor has picked it up in his past three works where he went 5f in 1:01.40 on January 18th and then extended out to 6f. He then posted a bullet 1:11.80 going 6f on January 24th and went 7f in 1:26.60 on January 30th on this track, both from the gate. This colt has been leaving scorch marks on the Santa Anita strip but he also laid it down before the Breeders’ Cup. His sire War Front is best known for producing standouts on the turf and synthetic but he has top-notch dirt breeding on his dams side. He will exit post #2 with J.Leparoux in the irons.
I guess it’s not a surprise I’m siding with Candy Boy for the win in the 2014 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. I made a nice chunk on him in the place slot last time and I doubt we see any juicy odds on him Saturday. I have to say I started this article before post positions were drawn and we’ll see how he does out of the one hole. He seems to be improving with Gary Stevens riding him in his workouts and he impressed me in the CashCall on the backstretch with that quick explosive move where he went from 10th place to first in a quarter mile. That takes some grit and heart. He couldn’t hold off Shared Belief and we’ll see how he does again back on the dirt.
I think the owners of Diamond Bachelor are making the right move giving him another shot on the dirt before they put him back on his preferred surface. He looks to meet up with the speedy Midnight Hawk here who has a similar running style. Diamond Bachelor who hasn’t raced since the Juvenile could be ready to fire off the layoff and could make some noise here plus some nice odds. Midnight Hawk may get a run for his money here with the speed of his stablemate Chitu. So #1 for the win with #2 & #3 to hit the board. If the odds are decent on Candy Boy I’ll put money across the board on him. Or I may play them in a leg of a pick 3 and toss in #5 Cool Samurai to hit. If the speed falls out, he and Candy Boy look the best to me. Good luck to the boys and their connections.
Robert B. Lewis Stakes 2014 Post Positions & Odds
1. Candy Boy 2/1 G. Stevens/J.Sadler
2. Diamond Bachelor 6/1 J.Leparoux/P.Biancone
3. Midnight Hawk 9/5 M.Smith/B.Baffert
4. Home Run Kitten 15/1 J.Talamo/D.Hofmans
5. Cool Samurai 6/1 C.Nakatani/J.Shirreffs
6. El Nino Terrible 12/1 E.Maldonado/P.Miller
7. Chitu 7/2 M.Garcia/B.Baffert