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Robert B. Lewis Stakes

As the third of five Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races held at Santa Anita each year, the Robert B. Lewis (G3) is a prominent steppingstone toward the “Run for the Roses,” offering 10 qualification points to the winner.

Named in memory of businessman and racehorse owner Robert B. “Bob” Lewis, whose horses regularly ran at Santa Anita, the Robert B. Lewis is one of Santa Anita’s oldest stakes races. First run in 1935 during the track’s inaugural meet, the race was originally known as the Santa Catalina and was held under a wide variety of conditions until 1964, when it settled into its current form as a 1 116-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Since then, the Robert B. Lewis has risen steadily in prominence. An early winner of note was Sham, famous for his duels with superstar Secretariat during the 1973 Triple Crown. Between 1980 and 2019 the race produced 46 Kentucky Derby starters, averaging about one per year.

In 1986, Ferdinand became the first Robert B. Lewis participant to win the Kentucky Derby, parlaying a runner-up effort into victory under the Twin Spires. Bob Lewis’ Charismatic followed suit in 1999, improving from fifth at Santa Anita to first at Churchill Downs. Following a quieter spell, I’ll Have Another became the first horse to win both races in 2012.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won the Robert B. Lewis eight times between 1999 and 2020, establishing a record. Retired jockeys Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay Jr. share the standard for riders with seven victories apiece.

By J. Keeler Johnson

Robert B. Lewis Stakes Recap

Messier earned his second graded stakes victory with a decisive triumph in the Robert B. Lewis S. (G3) at Santa Anita Feb. 6.

Jockey John Velazquez took the Empire Maker colt to the lead soon after the start of the 1 116-mile contest. They began to ease away on the final turn, and sprinted clear for a 15-length victory over Cabo Spirit. Wharton finished third, some 4 12 lengths behind Cabo Spirit, while Sir London was fourth.

The race offers 17 points in the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby series on a 10-4-2-1 basis. However, neither Messier nor third-place finisher Wharton is eligible for points as their trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended by Churchill Downs Inc.

Cabo Spirit and Sir London earned four points and one point, respectively, for their efforts. It was the first time either horse had raced in a 2022 Road qualifier.

Cabo Spirit, who was a $575,000 purchase at the OBS April sale of two-year-olds, came into the race after finishing third in the Cecil B. De Mille S. (G3) and winning the Eddie Logan S. A son of American Pharoah’s sire Pioneerof the Nile, Cabo Spirit is trained by George Papaprodromou for Kretz Racing.

Sir London was having his fourth start, and his first stakes start, in the Robert B. Lewis. A $700,000 buy as a two-year-old at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic, the Malibu Moon colt is trained by Simon Callaghan for owners AMO Racing USA and Qatar Racing.

By Alastair Bull