Kentucky Derby potential of the Robert B. Lewis competitors

Profile Picture:

TwinSpires Staff

February 5th, 2017

Story and Photo by Scott Shapiro

Saturday’s Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes is the second three-year-old race this year at Santa Anita Park to reward Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers.

The Lewis has often produced top contenders for the Kentucky Derby, but it is unlikely to generate the winner of this year’s “Run for the Roses.”

The top few 2017 Triple Crown prospects on the West Coast – Mastery, American Anthem and Gormley – all bypassed this year’s rendition, paving the way for a wire-to-wire score for Gormley’s barnmate Royal Mo.

The son of star sire Uncle Mo broke well, took on a challenge on the backstretch and kicked away late to capture his first stakes win and 10 points. Irap held off Sheer Flattery for second.  Term of Art finished fourth.     

While Royal Mo looked strong in comparison to his weak competition on Saturday, his hopes of competing with the top three-year-olds in the country remain in question. He is a big colt that should be able to handle the added distance, but both of his wins thus far have come with an uncontested early lead. It was encouraging that he took on pressure on the backside in the Lewis, and he certainly appears to be improving steadily, but I need to see more to be convinced that he is a contender for the first Saturday in May.

Outside of Royal Mo it appears improbable that any of the Lewis competitors will be on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2017.

7-5-favorite Sheer Flattery won his first start at two turns on New Year’s Eve in the slop, but finished an uninspiring third. Not only does the Jerry Hollendorfer trainee appear a cut or two below the top three-year-olds on the circuit, but based on pedigree and his inability to finish with significant run on Saturday it is probable he will do his best running around one turn.

Runner-up Irap was rank with the addition of blinkers and is another that may be best cutting back in distance. The half-brother to 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Speightstown is built like a sprinter and despite underneath finishes in two Derby points events he appears destined for a class drop to the maiden special weight ranks next time out.

Irap’s stablemates Term of Art and Dangerfield were both outrun in the Robert B. Lewis and have little chance of competing at this class level moving forward. I expect to see Dangerfield to take on conditional allowance foes is his next start, while Term of Art may be better suited in a stakes race up north against lesser competition.

The San Felipe on March 11 is the next race at Santa Anita Park on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Expect to see a much stronger group of three-year-olds in that one.