(Bob Baffert going for 9th win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes / Coady Photography)
From the Santa Anita Media Team:
SPIELBERG COULD GIVE BAFFERT NINTH LEWIS WIN
Should Bob Baffert win this Saturday’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes, he could “retire the cup,” as the expression goes.
It would mark the third straight victory in the steppingstone to the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on April 3 for the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer.
He won the Lewis last year with Thousand Words and in 2019 with Mucho Gusto. Overall, he has won it a record eight times, dating back to 1999 with General Challenge.
Subsequent winners were Domestic Dispute (2003), Pioneerof the Nile (2009), Flashback (2013), Dortmund (2015), Mor Spirit (2016) and the aforementioned Mucho Gusto and Thousand Words.
First run in 1935 as the Santa Catalina Handicap, this will mark the 83rd edition of the race, no matter its name or distance.
Baffert has two Triple Crown prospects nominated to the Lewis, but is likely to run only Spielberg, opting to wait and see how issues such as weather play out with Medina Spirit.
“Spielberg is definite, but Medina Spirit could run; I’m not certain,” Baffert said. “We’re going to have a lot of rain next week so I’m not sure.” Both horses worked five furlongs Friday in the identical time of 1:01.20.
Spielberg won the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity at a mile and one-sixteenth by a desperate nose over Doug O’Neill’s 33-1 longshot The Great One last Dec. 19 and has displayed an advantageous stalking style.
“He’s been immature but he’s improving mentally,” Baffert said of the $1 million son of Union Rags owned by a partnership of SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, et al.
“The Great One runs today (he’s the 7-5 morning line favorite in the second race), so it should be a good opportunity to get a line on things.”
The Robert B. Lewis is named in honor of the late owner whose Silver Charm (co-owned with wife, Beverly) provided Bob Baffert with his first Kentucky Derby win in 1998. The Lewis’s would also go on to win the 1999 Derby with the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Charismatic.
CEDILLO SHOWS HE’S STILL ‘ABEL’ WITH FOUR WINS
Abel Cedillo proved Friday you can’t keep a good man down. Or a good rider, either, in this case.
Cedillo, who turns 32 on Feb. 3, rode four winners Friday from seven mounts, good for fifth in Santa Anita’s jockeys standing with nine victories.
“We had a bit of a slow start this meet, but Abel is such a good, smart rider it was just a matter of time,” said his agent, Tom Knust, who has been representing Cedillo going on two years, since be brought him here from the Bay Area.
“Some unfortunate things happened to us, like horses losing shoes in a race, but Abel bounces back. He can have a four or five-win day at any time, like he did yesterday. He’s that kind of rider.”
Little wonder Cedillo is determined and diligent. He grew up in Guatemala, Latin America’s poorest country, on his family’s coffee farm in Nebaj, a town of about 15,000 in the country’s mountainous region some 240 miles northwest of the capital, Guatemala City.
The country has no race tracks and no racing history, so Cedillo, the oldest of four brothers, never rode a horse growing up. He did, however, ride the family’s mule while taking their coffee crop to market.
“The good thing about the four horses we rode yesterday is they were our horses,” Knust said. “We didn’t pick them up from (Flavien) Prat or (Joel) Rosario (who are riding at Gulfstream Park today), or anybody else. They were all horses we had been riding.
“In fact, all the horses we ride this weekend are for clients we had been riding for. The only one we did pick up because riders are out of town is Ghoul for Peter Miller in the Clockers’ Corner on Sunday.”
Cedillo isn’t about to rest on his laurels. He is named to ride in all nine races today including Triple Crown prospect The Great One, 7-5 morning line favorite in the second race for trainer Doug O’Neill, who won three races on Friday.
“The Great One is the most important horse to me because that could be our (Kentucky) Derby horse and he’s training lights out,” Knust said. “I have a lot of confidence in him.”
TIZAMAGICIAN SET FOR G2 SAN PASQUAL
Tizamagician worked five furlongs Friday in a bullet 59.20 for this Saturday’s G2 San Pasqual Stakes, a major steppingstone to the Grade Santa Anita Handicap on March 6.
“He’s doing great,” Richard Mandella said of the four-year-old Tiznow colt, who will be seeking his first stakes victory. “He never looked better.”
Owned by MyRacehorse.com and Spendthrift Farm, Tizamagician was second in the Grade III Tokyo City Cup last Sept. 27. He once again will be ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, who has been aboard in his last three races, winning two.
D’AMATO DUO SHORTEN UP IN CLOCKERS’ CORNER
Strike Me Down and Gregorian Chant are shortening up big time in Sunday’s $70,000 Clockers’ Corner Stakes scheduled to be run on turf at six furlongs, but Phil D’Amato feels it could prove beneficial.
“They both have a good turn of foot, so it’s worth a try,” the trainer said. Strike Me Down has one sprint in 14 career starts, third in a seven-furlong turf test at Woodbine on Aug. 16 last year, while Gregorian Chant’s lone sprint came in his debut race which he won three years ago in Ireland.
The Clockers’ Corner, race six of eight with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Mr Vargas, Jessica Pyfer, 9-5; Strongconstitution, Tiago Pereira, 12-1; Thanks Mr. Eidson, Edwin Maldonado, 8-1; Real News, Ricky Gonzalez, 4-1; Ghoul, Abel Cedillo, 5-1; Oiseau de Guerre, Ruben Fuentes, 30-1; Strike Me Down, Umberto Rispoli, 5-1; and Gregorian Chant, Juan Hernandez, 4-1.
FINISH LINES: There is a Rainbow Pick Six carryover today of $608,806 since there was no single ticket winner yesterday in Santa Anita’s popular 20-cent wager. There were, however, 127 consolation tickets with six wins, each worth $978.75. With a carryover from Monday of $555,554, there was $232,588 in new money wagered Friday, creating a total Jackpot pool of $788,142. Today’s Rainbow Pick Six is comprised of races four through nine, with approximate post time for the fourth race 2:14 p.m. Pacific . . . Multiple graded turf stakes winner United worked four furlongs Friday in 50.20. “He’s just coming along, no hurry,” said Richard Mandella, with no mention of a return race . . . With rain limiting activity, there were only 70 recorded workouts Saturday, nine on the training track…Happy 50th wedding anniversary wishes to HOF retired riding legend Eddie Delahoussaye and his wife Juanita!!