Nine sophomores will line up for their share of 17 total points offered up by the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, but not one entered in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points contest own a stakes win yet.
The 1 1/16-mile affair should prove a good indicator on where many of these stand as the points races get harder.
Inscom is one of the more accomplished runners in this field, but all but one of his starts have come on turf. The Simon Callaghan trainee debuted on Los Alamitos’ dirt but finished a well-beaten last-of-six in that September 7 contest. He just missed by a nose next out over Santa Anita’s turf before breaking his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths on the green.
Inscom shipped to Del Mar and was a subpar fifth while trying stakes rivals for the first time in the grassy Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3). Last out he once again recorded a close second, just a head back of the winner, in the Eddie Logan Stakes over Santa Anita’s turf on December 29. Flavien Prat has been aboard for all of the Distorted Humor colt’s starts thus far but Tyler Baze has the call on Saturday.
Ayacara also ran in the Eddie Logan most recently, filling the sixth spot just one race after a three-quarter length second in the Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. The Eddie Logan was on the turf and the Gold Rush took place over the synthetic Tapeta, but Ayacara started his career on the main track at Del Mar. The Keith Desormeaux-trained chestnut sandwiched a maiden win at that track between a pair of fourths at Del Mar and Santa Anita Park. Kent Desormeaux takes back the mount.
Shivermetimbers took his first career win at Del Mar by a head in his third try and then showed up at Santa Anita to be fourth in the Sham Stakes (G3). The Jerry Hollendorfer pupil earned a field-best 94 BRIS Speed rating for that effort and gets jockey Rafael Bejarano in the irons for the first time.
Dark Vader just broke his maiden by a nose at Los Alamitos on December 14 in his fourth career try. The Peter Eurton-conditioned dark bay was a head second in his debut at that same track, then finished a well-beaten fifth while trying stakes rivals next out in the Juvenile Stakes at Belterra Park in Ohio. Shipping back to California, the Tale of Ekati colt took on turf maidens at Del Mar, finishing seventh, but finally got a first win back at Los Alamitos under a returning Stewart Elliott.
Three in the field will be facing winners for the first time in the Lewis.
Peace has reputed himself well thus far for trainer Richard Mandella, finishing second behind recent Smarty Jones Stakes winner Mourinho while making his debut last September at Santa Anita and just missing by a head to Shivermetimbers in a one-mile maiden on November 23 at Del Mar. However, the gray son of Violence would not close out his juvenile campaign without a win, breaking through to score by three parts of a length on December 30 while going 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita.
Peace had Mike Smith aboard for that last start and retains the Hall of Famer’s services while making his stakes and sophomore bow in this spot.
Pepe Tono finished sixth in his debut for trainer Victor Garcia going seven furlongs on December 26, but returned at a mile January 19 and rallied from last to score by 1 1/2 lengths under regular rider Evin Roman, who stays in the saddle Saturday.
Lombo made his debut on Del Mar’s turf, running seventh while going five-eighths. Trainer Michael Pender switched him to the main track at Santa Anita and the Graydar colt was third on New Year’s Day while trying six furlongs, then posted a 3 1/2-length victory at 6 1/2 furlongs on January 20 over the same track. Flavien Prat takes the reins for the first time.
Regulate and Blame the Rider are both seeking a first career win in this spot for trainers Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill, respectively. The duo have each started three times, and competed in Pepe Tono’s maiden win in their last start. Regulate finished sixth, beaten 14 lengths, and Blame the Rider filled the third spot, 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner.