Friday, February 6, 2015

Robert B. Lewis Stakes Racing Roundup

©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
After the running this Saturday of the Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct on the east coast, the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” will take us to the west coast where Dortmund, who’s undefeated in three starts, will go the starting gate as the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the 77th running of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
This will be Dortmund’s first start as three year old and his second start in stakes competition. He finished his racing season last year with a thrilling victory in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) over the runner up Firing Line, who also is entered in this race and has been tabbed as the 7-5 morning-line second choice.
The fractional splits in the Futurity and final time of 1:40.86 was blistering fast for the 8½-furlongs and set a new Los Alamitos Race Course track record. Here’s the chart call and video:

DORTMUND content to track dueling leaders from off the rail into and through the backstretch, continued three then four wide into the stretch, was under strong asking from the outside, challenged outside rivals in the upper stretch, edged closer under vigorous right hand urging, joined rivals three deep nearing the wire and got the bob decision.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar race as the Futurity run in the Lewis and, it remains to be seen if Dortmund can successfully defend his perfect win record. But, like most everyone else, I’m looking forward to see him run Saturday.  
Currently ranked tenth in point standings, a win by Dortmund in the Lewis would put him near the top of the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. A win would also give trainer Bob Baffert his fifth win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) making him the all-time winning trainer. He currently is tied with Charles Whittingham and Charles McAnally at four wins each.
And, Churchill Downs Handicapper Mike Battaglia has tabbed Dortmund, along with Upstart, as the 12-1 second choice in pool two of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which begins today and runs through Sunday. Firing Line is 30-1 in the future wager.
Firing Line comes into this race with a 1-2-0 record in three starts for trainer Simon Callaghan. This race will also be Firing Line’s first start as three year old and his second start in stakes competition.
No doubt, Firing Line will come out firing and he’ll be competitive in this race. However, at this point, I’m not sure how far he wants to run and Dortmund may have the edge on him as the distance gets longer.
The best value in this race could be in Rock Shandy (6-1) who was my 21.40-1 long shot pick in the one-mile Sham Stakes (G3). He finished second in that race to his stablemate, Calculator, who is sidelined with an injury and off the Kentucky Derby Trail.
Rock Shandy has good speed and he comes into this race with a 1-1-1 record in four starts for trainer Peter Miller. His time in the Sham, and previous races, is near the 1:35 mark and that is the kind of speed I like to see in a young horse on the Derby trail. Here’s the chart call and video of the Sham:

CALCULATOR five wide into the first turn, stalked outside foes on the back-stretch, bid three deep leaving the second turn to gain the lead and won clear under urging. ROCK SHANDY stalked between horses then a bit off the rail, came out leaving the second turn and into the stretch and bested the others.

Last November, Rock Shandy finished third in the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3) at Del Mar racetrack. Here’s the video and chart call:

ROCK SHANDY three deep early, stalked outside a rival, came three wide into the stretch, was between horses in midstretch and edged rivals for the show.

The finish time of 1:36.93 is pretty decent for young colts running a mile on the turf. Rock Shandy only lost by two lengths, however, he may have been hampered when he ran between horses in the stretch.
In his second start, Rock Shandy showed good speed when he led gate to wire in another mile race at Del Mar, breaking his maiden by three-quarters of length in a final time of 1:35.85. Here’s the video and chart call:

ROCK SHANDY had speed off the rail then between foes into the first turn, angled in, set the pace inside, came a bit off the rail into the stretch, fought back when headed inside the runner-up to regain the advantage past midstretch and proved best under urging.

Rock Shandy’s win was later flattered by fifth-place finisher, Bolo, who has become a bit of a buzz horse and winner of the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita on December 27.
Jockey Victor Espinoza, who guided Rock Shandy to his maiden win and his second-place finish in the Sham, will retain the mount in this race. The stretch out to 8½-furlongs will benefit Rock Shandy and I look for him to be competitive.

Under the points system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine which horses will qualify to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the winner of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) will receive 10 points, the second-place finisher will receive 4 points, the third-place finisher will receive 2 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive one point.
Calculator, ranked 5th in the January 24 Kentucky Derby point standings, is sidelined with an injury for six months and he’s off the Derby trail. Leave the Light On, ranked 13th, is also off the trail.
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:


Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1. El Kabeir, 21, John Terranova II, $330,792
2. International Star, 21, Mike Maker, $250,979
3. Upstart, 16, Rick Violette Jr., $538,080
4. Carpe Diem, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
5. Texas Red, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $1,176,000
6. Mr. Z, 12, D. Wayne Lukas, $488,326
7. Far Right, 12, Ron Moquett, $205,906
8. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 10, Jim Cassidy, $660,000
9. American Pharoah, 10, Bob Baffert, $360,000
10. Daredevil, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
10. Dortmund, 10, Bob Baffert, $300,000
12. Lucky Player, 10, Steve Asmussen, $97,231
13. Frosted, 8, Kiaran McLaughlin, $156,800
14. Bold Conquest, 6, Steve Asmussen, $72,176
15. Conquest Typhoon, 4, Mark Casse, $221,827
16. Bayerd, 4, Steve Asmussen, $245,000
17. Imperia, 4, Kiaran McLaughlin, $163,804
18. Firing Line, 4, Simon Callaghan, $100,000
19. Nasa, John Servis, $40,000
19. War Story, Tom Amoss, $40,000


  1. I agree with your assessment but still give Firing Line a longer look since it's same distance. It's the time to get excited about run to Derby. I really like Daredevil to make amends for BC debacle when he returns later this month at Gulfstream. As in most things, time will tell.

  2. lcdrball,

    Thanks for following my blog.

    I agree that Firing Line could step up with the win. I'm not sure how much farther than 8 1/2 furlongs he wants to run. Indeed, time will tell for all these young horses.

    Again, thanks for contributing to my blog. I appreciate your comments.

  3. With results in Lewis I concur that Firing Line has his distance limitations. Looks like he also doesn't have that "head of the herd" mentality that Dortmund appears to possess.

  4. lcdrball,

    I agree.

    Dortmund is definitely talented and appears to have separated himself from the rest of the "herd' in California. But so far he has not demonstrated the same flair that his sire, Big Brown, had to devastate his foes by open lengths.

    1. Agree. Will you be posting thoughts on El Camino Real and Southwest Stakes?

    2. The El Camino Real Derby will be posted shortly. The Southwest may be posted sometime on Sunday or early Monday.