Robert B. Lewis (G3) — Race 7 (6:30 p.m. ET)
A fine field of eight is set, and Kentucky Derby implications surround Saturday’s $100,000 Robert B. Lewis S. (G3) at Santa Anita.
Bob Baffert has a pair of top contenders, Medina Spirit and Spielberg. Doug O’Neill will send out a well-regarded duo, Hot Rod Charlie and Wipe the Slate.
Baffert and O’Neill have combined to win five of the last nine editions of the Kentucky Derby.
It’s the second of four qualifiers during the winter/spring meet, awarding points on a 10-4-2-1 scale as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
The 1 1/16-mile race memorializes prominent businessman and Thoroughbred owner Bob Lewis, who along with his late wife, Beverly, campaigned six champions, including Hall of Famers Silver Charm and Serena’s Song, and won the Kentucky Derby twice.
Medina Spirit will take some beating following his excellent runner-up effort in the Jan. 2 Sham S. (G3). A front-running debut winner in mid-December, the Florida-bred Protonico colt came up only three-quarters of a length short last time to stablemate Life Is Good, the early Kentucky Derby favorite. Medina Spirit received an encouraging 97 Brisnet Speed rating, and Abel Cedillo retains the mount.
Spielberg appeared to turn a corner when rallying to catch impressive next-out maiden winner The Great One in the Dec. 19 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), easily registering a career-best 101 Speed rating in his first stakes tally. Flavien Prat will be up on the $1 million Union Rags colt.
Hot Rod Charlie enters his 3-year-old debut on an upward trajectory, displaying improved tactical speed as he broke his maiden and posted a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in the last two outings. The dark bay Oxbow colt adds the services of Joel Rosario.
Wipe the Slate proved no match for Life Is Good the first time out, finishing a clear second in a November maiden special weight, but the Nyquist colt came back to stylishly graduate by a 3 1/4-length margin on the Dec. 26 opening-day program at Santa Anita. Mario Gutierrez has the call.
American Pharoah (G1) runner-up Rombauer, a rallying fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, will return for Michael McCarthy. Roman Centurian, who exits a convincing maiden triumph in his second start, jumps to stakes competition for Simon Callaghan. Parnelli and Waspirant complete the field.