Formerly known as the Santa Catalina Stakes, in 2007, Santa Anita Park made an admirable decision to rename the derby prep. The race is now known as the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in honor of the late, prominent, California Thoroughbred Owner and Horsemen.
In the early ’90s Bob, along with his wife Beverly, experienced the excitement of the KYD when their horse Timber Country finished 3rd in ’95. The late ’90s, however, is where their love for horses really paid off, claiming the ’97 KYD with Silver Charm & again in ’99 with Charismatic. Who can forget those green with yellow striped jockey silks that paid respect to their alma mater, Oregon, and gave us 2 unforgettable attempts at claiming the Triple Crown. At The Derby Post we respect the excitement and attention Bob brought and Beverly still brings to the sport. We look forward to Bob’s Stakes Race on Saturday as it is sure to produce some buzz on the California Trail to the Derby.
Santa Anita Park is a beautiful venue in So. Cal and a leader in California Racing. Home to the Santa Anita Derby on April 9th, SA will play host to a couple more preps following Saturday (San Vicente GII on 2/20 & the San Felipe GII on 3/12). The chatter on the back side, in the news and within the industry this year at Santa Anita is the track surface. On opening day of the current meet, Santa Anita switched back to a traditional dirt surface which was previously replaced by a synthetic surface. Such surfaces are still in place at two major tracks in Keeneland & Arlington Park. The reason behind the attention is that horse owners and their connections need not worry or ponder pulling their CA horse from SA prior to the KYD in order to race on traditional dirt before breaking from the gate at Churchill Downs. Comfort levels for thoroughbreds on the Churchill dirt after only running on synthetics has been questioned over the past few years. In 2011 that conversation won’t include Santa Anita.
A quick look at the field. Tapizar, # 5 on our Derby Rankings, is the odds on favorite. With jockey Garrett Gomez in the irons and Steve Asmussen training, this top CA contender looks to follow-up his 4 1/2 length victory in last months Sham Stakes (GII) with another. Challengers to note will be Trainers Bob Baffert and his horse Wegner along with Doug O’Neil and his horse Thirtyfirststreet.
Last note, on Bob Lewis. He was an owner of one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the country and followed that with being one of the most successful Thoroughbred owners in the country. King of Beers and the Sport of Kings, what a solid combination. I believe I may have enjoyed them at the same time myself. Maybe I’ll look into it on Saturday. Stay tuned as my picks for Saturday’s California Derby Preps will be posted tomorrow morning. Can’t wait until then or made your picks already? Email us questions or comments below.
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