Robert Lewis Headlines Derby Prep Trio

30 Jan

While it isn’t the richest stakes race on the docket Saturday at Santa Anita, the $100,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) will get plenty of attention from those keeping close tabs on the nation’s top Kentucky Derby prospects, as the calendar flips to February. Among the six-pack assembled to compete in the 1 1/16 miles test are a pair from the “Derby” Bob Baffert barn, recent Los Al Futurity winner Thousand Words (4/5) and third place finisher, High Velocity (3/1).

Any chance at getting a price will have to go through those two, but hope could reside in recent maiden winner Tizamagician (3/1) who has finished second or better in five of six career races. Another pair exiting turf races, recent Eddie Logan winner, Encoder (8/1) and 5th place finisher, Royal Act (15/1), could have upset potential if they can transfer their form to dirt. The latter is by American Pharoah, so the dirt breeding is certainly there. Never worse than third in six starts, maiden winner Zimba Warrior (15/1) rounds out the field and could offer value underneath in Exactas should there be a hot pace on the front end.

Carded as the 6th of 9 races, the Lewis kicks off a stakes trio that includes the $200,000 San Marcos Stakes (G2) and the $200,000 San Pasqual (G2), respectively. At 1 1/4 miles on the turf course, the San Marcos features a rematch between the top two finishers in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) at Del Mar, Oscar Dominguez (5/2) and United (8/5), with second morning-line choice and John Henry Turf Cup (G2) winner, Cleopatra’s Strike (2/1), adding depth to the seven-horse field.

Clearly the most wide-open of the stakes trio is the 10-horse San Pasqual (G2) Stakes, led by lukewarm morning-line choices Midcourt (3/1) and Roadster (7/2). Both exiting third and second place finishes, respectively, in graded stakes action on opening day, it remains to be seen who will step forward in the nine-furlong test for older horses. Throw in San Antonio Stakes (G2) runner up King Abner (4/1) and Zia Handicap Championship winner Restrainedvengence (4/1), and you’ve got one heck of a handicapping puzzle to sort out in 8th and co-featured event.

Santa Anita goes to post at 12:30pm Saturday, with the stakes action getting underway in the 6th at approximately 3:00pm.

Withers, Holy Bull Top Simulcast Action at Aqueduct and Gulfstream

There’s plenty of out-of-town action with Derby implications this Saturday as well, starting with the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park. The Holy Bull headlines a five stakes card that also includes the $150,000 Forward Gal (G3), $150,000 Swale (G3), $100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3) and $100,000 Dania Beach.

The Holy Bull features the debut of Champagne (G1) winner and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) third-place finisher, Tiz The Law (3/5), who figures to take the most betting action. However, punters looking for a horse the fits a similar profile to Maximum Security might want to take a peek at Uncork The Bottle (12/1), who boasts an undefeated record in three starts including one in a 16k maiden claimer. He’ll also be saddled by Gulfstreams’ latest super trainer, Saffie Joseph, Jr., who’s striking at a 28% clip.

Pleasanton OTB will be taking races 4-12 from Gulfstream Park, including all five stakes races, starting at 10:34am on Saturday.

Up the coast in Ozone Park, NY, eight three-year-olds led by Remsen (G2) winner Shotski (2/1) will do battle over nine furlongs on the main course. Among his top challengers figures to be recent stakes winner Monday Morning QB (4/1), who might not be the worst hunch play one day before the Super Bowl. The Withers is carded at the 8th of 9 races and goes to post at approximately 1:25pm.

Pleasanton OTB will be taking races 2-9 on the Aqueduct card, starting at 10:28am.


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