- The Robert B. Lewis whom the race is named after is the late Bob Lewis, a successful businessman who became a major owner along with his wife Beverly. He was the owner of the Classic winners Silver Charm, Timber Country, Commendable, and Charismatic, along with the outstanding filly Serena’s Song. Lewis died in 2006 aged 81, while Beverly died in October last year aged 90.
- Until renamed in Bob Lewis’ honor, the race was known as the Santa Catalina Stakes. Founded in 1935, it was until 1964 a race for 3-year-olds and up; its winners include champion turf horse T.V. Lark, Kelso’s sire Your Host, and the high-class Californian handicap horse Terrang, a dual winner.
- In the past two decades the race has become an important lead-up to the Santa Anita Derby. The most recent horse to complete the double was Dortmund in 2015; others to do so before him include I’ll Have Another (2012), Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Brother Derek (2006), The Deputy (2000), General Challenge (1999), and Larry the Legend (1995).
- The race has been less successful as a guide to finding Classic winners. The most notable in recent years was I’ll Have Another, but the most recent winner before him that subsequently won a Classic was Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand in 1986.
- As with many major Californian races, the Robert B. Lewis Stakes has been a good one for trainer Bob Baffert. He’s won the race a record seven times; the first came in 1999 with General Challenge, and he’s won three of the past five editions of the race: with Flashback (2013), Dortmund (2015), and Mor Spirit (2016). His only runner this year is the maiden Regulate.
(Bob and Beverly Lewis photo by Horsephotos.com)