August 8, 2022

Gunmetal Gray, Mucho Gusto highlight Robert B. Lewis

Gunmetal Gray, with Mike Smith up, wins the Sham Stakes (G3) for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer at Santa Anita Park on January 5, 2019 (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com

Sham (G3) winner Gunmetal Gray and Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) runner-up Mucho Gusto rate as top contenders in Saturday’s $150,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita. Six are entered and the 1 1/16-mile race offers a combined 17 points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1) as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

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Gunmetal Gray is currently ranked fifth on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 14 points. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt picked up 10 points in the January 5 Sham, rallying past six rivals in the stretch to win going away by a length, and earned four points for a non-threatening second to eventual two-year-old male champion Game Winner in the American Pharoah (G1) last fall.

Listed as the slight 9-5 second choice on the morning line, Gunmetal Gray added the services of Mike Smith in the Sham and the Hall of Fame rider will retain the mount aboard the son of Exchange Rate.

Mucho Gusto hails from the barn of five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, who leads all trainers with six wins in the Lewis. Mucho Gusto captured his first two starts including the Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar before finishing a clear second behind unbeaten Kentucky Derby contender Improbable in the December 8 Los Alamitos Futurity. By Mucho Macho Man, the chestnut colt appears to be lone speed on paper with a returning Joe Talamo and has been installed as the 8-5 favorite.

Nolo Contesto will jump to a Kentucky Derby qualifier following a nice maiden score at Santa Anita on January 4. A son of Pioneerof the Nile, who won the 2009 Lewis and sired 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Nolo Contesto improved while stretching out to a two-turn distance last time and registered a commendable 94 BRIS Speed rating. He’s the early 5-2 third choice and Joel Rosario will be up for John Sadler.

Magnificent McCool will return to the main track for Doug O’Neill. The Giant’s Causeway colt switched to turf and broke his maiden by a 3 1/4-length margin last out and Flavien Prat will be back in the saddle.

Sham fifth-placer Easy Shot and former claimer Kid Cantina round out the field.