AMERICAN LION (Tiznow) will make his two-turn debut Saturday while taking on four rivals in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis S. (G2) at Santa Anita. The 1 1/16-mile event, rescheduled from last Saturday's card that was lost when the Pro-Ride failed to drain properly after heavy rain, is a major prep for the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 3.
American Lion ran second in his debut for trainer Richard Budge before being transferred to Eoin Harty for his past two races under Julien Leparoux, who stays aboard in the Lewis. The bay colt followed a 6 3/4-length maiden win with a half-length victory in the Hollywood Prevue S. (G3) last time out, both going seven furlongs.
Among those American Lion will face in the Lewis is CARACORTADO (Cat Dreams), who faces his stiffest test yet while putting his unbeaten record on the line.
"He has been a surprise," trainer Mike Machowsky admitted of the chestnut, who began his career winning a $40,000 maiden claiming race going a half-mile at Fairplex Park.
Since that dirt race, Caracortado has raced exclusively on synthetics, taking a pair of allowances on the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park and posting a 1 3/4-length score in in the California Breeders' Champion S. while stretching out to 8 1/2 furlongs for the first time over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride. Paul Atkinson has been aboard for each start and retains the mount here.
"When you start off running a horse a half-mile, you're not sure what to expect down the line," Machowsky continued. "But every time I've asked the horse to do something, he's done it."
What Caracortado will have to do Saturday is hold off the likes of TIZ CHROME (Tiznow) and DAVE IN DIXIE (Dixie Union). The former exits a four-length score in the December 19 Stuka S., his first start for Bob Baffert, and the unbeaten colt will retain the services of Garrett Gomez in his graded debut. Joel Rosario shows up aboard close Norfolk S. (G1) sixth Dave in Dixie.
Golden Gate invader TANGO TANGO (Orientate) rounds out the Lewis field.