Flavien Prat didn’t know if Lombo would last the 1 1/16-mile distance of the February 3 Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita but felt confident the speedy colt would be in front.
“I worked him last week and he’s got a lot of speed, was concerned he might want to go but he was relaxed,” the jockey said after recording an 8-1 upset aboard the wire-to-wire winner. “That was my main concern, but he relaxed and then he went on.”
After establishing moderate early fractions on a short lead, Lombo drew off from the competition leaving the far turn and opened enough cushion to hold runner-up Ayacara safe by two lengths.
It wasn’t a fast race, with Lombo generating only an 88 BRIS Speed rating, and he’s posted pedestrian Speed and Late Pace numbers in all four starts. But trainer Mike Pender got the most out of his charge in the Robert B. Lewis, with the winner taking advantage of a suspect field in which all nine runners were eligible for the non-winners of two lifetime condition.
Prat picked up the mount after Kent Desormeaux, who was up for a 3 ½-length maiden tally on January 20, opted to ride the runner-up. Of course, Ayacara is trained by Keith Desormeaux, bother of the Hall of Fame and three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey.
Lombo, who is from the first crop of Graydar, was fortunate to receive the right set-up and probably doesn’t want any part of longer distances this spring. I’ll be surprised to see him factor in upcoming Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifiers.
Ayacara dropped too far back in the early stages and rates as a better prospect for Triple Crown races, but he’s got plenty of ground to make up after failing to register a BRIS Speed rating better than 89 from six career starts.