From the Santa Anita Media Team:
LEWIS FOES COMPRISE A ‘BAFFERT SANDWICH’
There are no “throw outs” in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.
Everyone came to play.
In arguably one of the most competitive fields in its 83 editions, dating back to 1935 when it was presented as the Santa Catalina Handicap, Saturday’s Grade III test for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles looms a major steppingstone to the Grade I, Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on April 3 and awards 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third horse and one point to the fourth.
Drawing an inside post with Medina Spirit and an outside post with Spielberg, Bob Baffert has the field of eight sandwiched, at least on paper. Whether the sandwich contains baloney or filet mignon remains to be seen.
Should Baffert win, it would mark the third straight victory in the Lewis for the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer. He won last year with Thousand Words and in 2019 with Mucho Gusto. Overall, he has won the race 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.
“I don’t like being stuck inside, and on the outside, you lose ground, but I think we’ll learn more about both horses,” Baffert said. “Right now, we’re just trying to figure out their styles and how good they are. They’ll start separating themselves. Until they go a mile and an eighth, that’s when you’ll really know.”
Coincidentally, Medina Spirit had the number one post position last out when he was second to Baffert’s individual Kentucky Derby Future Book favorite, unbeaten Life Is Good, in the Grade III Sham Stakes Jan. 2, while Spielberg had the outside number six post last out Dec. 19 when the $1 million son of Union Rags won the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity by a nose over The Great One.
“I’ll just let the riders ride their race and see what happens,” Baffert said of the Lewis, in which Abel Cedillo is aboard Medina Spirit for the third consecutive race and Flavien Prat returns on Spielberg for the second time.
Meanwhile, Charlatan worked “really well” Wednesday, going six furlongs in a bullet 1:12.60 as Baffert prepares him for the world’s richest race, the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 20
Responding to newly-crowned Horse of the Year Authentic’s victory in the 146th Kentucky Derby being voted the 2020 FanDuel Racing-NTRA Moment of the Year based on results of 3,403 votes cast on Twitter and an online poll, Baffert concurred.
“Authentic deserves that honor,” Baffert said. “He was the most exciting horse to watch last year.”
The Lewis is named for the late owner and philanthropist whose Silver Charm (co-owned by his wife, Beverly) gave Baffert his first Kentucky Derby win in 1997 (he now has six). The Lewises also won the 1999 Derby with Charismatic, trained by D. Wayne Lukas.
The Lewis, race seven of eight with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Medina Spirit, Abel Cedillo, 5-2; Rombauer, Mike Smith, 8-1; Parnelli, Umberto Rispoli, 12-1; Hot Rod Charlie, Joel Rosario, 3-1; Roman Centurian, Juan Hernandez, 8-1; Waspirant, Ricardo Gonzalez, 20-1; Wipe the Slate, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1; and Spielberg, Flavien Prat, 7-2.
BAFFERT, SANTA ANITA HOME OF ECLIPSE CHAMPS AGAIN
For the third time in the last six years, a Horse of the Year trained by Bob Baffert calls Santa Anita home.
Authentic joined Triple Crown kings American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) when honors were announced last night during a virtual ceremony at the 50th annual Eclipse Awards presented by Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky.
Authentic also was voted Outstanding Three-Year-Old Male.
Other Eclipse Award winners trained by Baffert and based at Santa Anita were Improbable, Older Dirt Male, and Gamine, Female Sprinter.
Baffert, who trained his first Horse of the Year, Point Given, in 2001, was one of three finalists for an Eclipse Award among trainers along with Steve Asmussen and Brad Cox, who was the winner.
In an NTRA fan poll, Baffert, however, was named top Eclipse Award Champion of All Time for trainers, based on 50 years of the Eclipse Awards, while another icon whose second home is Santa Anita, the legendary Laffit Pincay Jr., received the same honor among jockeys.
There were five finalists in each category, one for each decade, with the winner decided by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s (NTRA) fan vote.
“I’m very proud this morning,” Baffert said early Friday. “I’m grateful to my owners, the grooms, the exercise riders, everybody on the team.
“It’s a team effort, but most of all, I’m happy that my horses won.”
When apprised that he has now surpassed D. Wayne Lukas (30) as the all-time leading Eclipse Award-winning trainer with 32 trophies, Baffert responded, “Wayne has always been the bar in racing to me. Couldn’t have done it without great horses and a great team.”
TIZAMAGICIAN ‘DOING REAL WELL’ FOR SAN PASQUAL
Richard Mandella was a relatively young pup of 33 when he won the 1983 San Pasqual Stakes for the first time, with a horse named Regal Falcon ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye.
In 2005, he captured his second San Pasqual, this time with Congrats under Tyler Baze. On Saturday the Hall of Fame trainer, now a sprightly 70, sends out committed front-runner Tizamagician in a bid for number three.
A four-year-old Tiznow colt, Tizamagician won an overnight race in game fashion last out on Jan. 2, leading throughout as is his wont. It was his first race in more than three months.
“He likes to be in front and came off a nice win,” Mandella said of the four-old Kentucky-bred colt owned by MyRacehorse.com and Spendthrift Farm, who will be ridden for the fourth straight time by Drayden Van Dyke.
Mandella was speaking of an overnight victory Jan. 2 at a mile and one-sixteenth, Tizamagician’s first race in more than three months.
“He’s doing real well,” said Mandella, who could use the San Pasqual as a steppingstone to the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, a race the Hall of Fame trainer has won three times, with Siphon in 1997, Malek in 1998 and Rock Hard Ten in 2005.
“That makes sense,” Mandella said, alluding to the San Pasqual as a logical forerunner to the Big ‘Cap, Santa Anita’s marquee race for older horses, which will be presented for the 84th time this year.
The San Pasqual, race five: Tizamagician, Drayden Van Dyke, 9-2; Idol, Gabriel Saez, 9-5; King Guillermo, Abel Cedillo, 2-1; Express Train, Juan Hernandez, 2-1; and Zestful, Edwin Maldonado, 15-1.
FINISH LINES: World renowned Track Consultant Dennis Moore reports Santa Anita has received 1.90 inches of rain through 10 a.m. today…With an inclement weather forecast serious enough to cancel racing at Santa Anita today, breezers beat the rain Wednesday with 256 recorded works, 30 on the training track. Doug O’Neill sent out 22 head led by Lewis entrants Hot Rod Charlieand Wipe the Slate, who blew out three furlongs in 37 flat and 36.20, respectively. Bob Baffertsupervised 18 drills, including a four furlong move of 49.60, breezing, by Life Is Good. Among Richard Mandella‘s nine workers, two fired bullets, both progeny of Medaglia d’Oro, Amuse going five furlongs in 59.80, fastest of 77 works at the distance, and Moonlight d’Oro going six furlongs in 1:12.60, equaling Charlatan‘s time. There were an additional 179 workers Thursday, among them stakes winners Beer Can Man, four furlongs in 50 seconds flat for Mark Glatt; Smooth Like Strait, four furlongs in 50:60 for Michael McCarthy; Hard Not to Love, five furlongs in 1:01.80 for John Shirreffs; and Restrainedvengence, five furlongs in 1:02 for Val Brinkerhoff . . . McCarthy reports Independence Hall in fine fettle following his third-place finish behind victorious 13-10 favorite Knicks Go in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 23. Off at 27-1 following a late drop in the odds, the son of Constitution was always in the hunt and beaten only a neck for second, earning a hefty $290,000 for third, returning $10 for a $2 show bet. “He ran super and came out of it very well,” the trainer said. “We’ll regroup for a week or 10 days and come up with a game plan (for his next race).” . . . There is a tempting Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot carryover of $710,207 on Saturday’s eight-race program, since there was no single-ticket winner last Sunday on the popular 20-cent wager. There were eight consolation tickets with six wins, however, each worth $13,905.40.