A day after some of the East Coast’s best 3-year-olds take center stage in the $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) Feb. 5 at Gulfstream Park, sophomores on the West Coast have their stakes moment Feb. 6 in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
The race is an official Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) prep, offering points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to its top-four finishers, though horses trained by Bob Baffert are ineligible for points owing to Churchill Downs Inc .’s suspension of the Hall of Famer trainer from its tracks through mid-2023 for medication violations.
Baffert has two of the five entrants in the 1 1/16-mile Lewis—Messier and Wharton —and both will be well backed in the wagering. Also entered are Sir London , trained by Simon Callaghan; turf stakes winner Cabo Spirit , trained by George Papaprodromou; and HappyJack conditioned by Doug O’Neill.
O’Neill, like Baffert, is a multiple Kentucky Derby winner.
Messier is likely to start as the favorite despite a surprising defeat when second at 1-2 odds in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) Dec. 11 at Los Alamitos Race Course. Well positioned, he took the lead in early stretch, but couldn’t fend off the O’Neill-trained Slow Down Andy in the lane. Messier finished a length behind that rival.
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Video: Los Alamitos Futurity (G2)
Prior to that race, his first route, the son of EmpireMaker won the Nov. 14 Bob Hope Stakes (G3) at Del Mar when sprinting seven furlongs and took a six-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita Oct. 22. He ran second in a five-furlong maiden race June 27 at Los Alamitos on debut.
Both he and Wharton race for SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable, and Siena Farm. They are uncoupled.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who teamed with Baffert and many of those same owners to win last month’s Sham Stakes (G3) and Southwest Stakes (G3), gains the mount on Messier. Messier will race without blinkers after adding them in the Los Alamitos Futurity.
Juan Hernandez picks up the mount on Wharton, a candy ride colt who scored on debut when racing 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita Dec. 31.
Wharton is out of the Include pond Her Smile , who captured the 2011 Prioress Stakes (G1) at six furlongs. Her Smile produced graded stakes winner Pink Sands (Carpet ), whose best races largely came around one turn but who also won an ungraded stakes race at 1 1/16 miles.
Baffert has won the Lewis nine times, including the last three years, most recently with the late Medina Spirit . O’Neill is a two-time Lewis winner.
Flavien Prat, who rode Messier in his last three races, is aboard Sir London, a Malibu Moon colt who won a mile maiden race Dec. 4 at Los Alamitos by 10 lengths in his third start. The AMO Racing USA and Qatar Racing-owned colt previously had been second in a pair of maiden sprints.
Kretz Racing’s Cabo Spirit (Pioneer of the Nile ) and Calumet Farm’s Happy Jack (oxbow ) also enter Sunday’s race following victories, the former in the Jan. 2 Eddie Logan Stakes on grass and the latter in a Jan. 22 maiden race on dirt at Santa Anita in his debut over six furlongs.
The 2-3 finishers from the Eddie Logan, Maglev and Handy Dandy , won their subsequent starts, the former in the Jan. 30 Cabinet Stakes.
Inputs: Robert B. Lewis S. (G3)
Santa Anita Park, Sunday, February 06, 2022, Race 8
- Grade III
- 1 1/16m
- 3 yrs
- 4:00 PM (local)