2018 Robert B. Lewis Stakes Results

Two weeks after breaking his maiden in his third start, Lombo scored a two-length victory in his stakes debut in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Lombo was washy at the gate but sped to the early lead and set the pace inside. He inched away on the second turn and opened up under urging in the stretch and won clear by 2 lengths. Lombo finished the 1 116 miles in 1:45.41 and paid $19.40, $10.40 and $7.20 at 8-1 odds in the field of nine 3-year-olds.

“He ran a big race," Prat said. "They put a little pressure on him down the backside, but he was nice and relaxed. I worked him last week and he’s got a lot of speed…I was concerned he might want to go, but he was relaxed. That was my main concern."

The victory for Lombo gives trainer Mike Pender a Kentucky Derby contender with the win worth 10 qualifying points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, which determines the 20-horse field for the May 5 race. Lombo now has two wins in four starts and earnings of $129,225.

“He’s definitely a high octane horse,” said Pender. "Apparently, Graydar (his sire) had some of the same characteristics and Unbridled’s Song (Graydar’s sire) as well. He’s just a big kid and got a little ADD to him but he’s starting to figure it out. When he does really figure it out, I think he’ll be really dangerous…We’ve been training since November to get two turns. I knew he had intense gate speed…I knew he was going to break right on the muscle today and take them as far as he could.”

Ayacara (9-2) closed from the back to finish 2nd and return $6 and $4.40 and earned 4 qualifying points. Long shot Dark Vader (36-1) was another 2 14 lengths back in third and paid $13.60 to show, earning 2 qualifying points. Regulate received 1 point for finishing fourth.

The two race favorites were both 2-1 at post but never factored. Shivemetimbers finished 7th more than 12 lengths behind the winner. Peace finished 5th prompting Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith to blame it on the first-time blinkers.

“He stopped on me the whole race! I thought the blinkers would wake him up but it backfired on us big time. I feel bad because it was my idea," Smith said.

Lombo will continue to train at Santa Anita and likely be pointed towards the March 10 San Felipe with 50 points awarded to the winner, ensuring a spot in the starting gate for the May 5 Kentucky Derby.