Speed play in Robert Lewis

Profile Picture: James Scully

February 3rd, 2018

The Holy Bull (G2) features a trio of high-profile sophomores and the six-horse Withers (G3) should be interesting to watch. But for my money, the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita has the most wagering appeal among the three Kentucky Derby prep races Saturday.

Lombo is the pick.

All nine runners are eligible for a non-winner of two lifetime condition and I’ll be surprised to see any have an impact upon the Triple Crown. Lombo probably wants no part of longer distances this spring, but he’s just got to last 8 ½ furlongs on Saturday. And as the probable lone speed, I like his chances.

After dropping his debut on turf, Lombo finished third to impressive maiden winner Ax Man when switching to dirt January 1. That Bob Baffert-trained rival is the one to beat for in the upcoming San Vicente (G2) and Lombo flattered Ax Man when returning 19 days later to crush maiden special weight rivals in front-running fashion, registering an 86 BRIS Speed rating that stacks up well in the Lewis.

Distance remains the biggest question. From the first crop of Graydar, Lombo has some speed influences on the female side of the family and appears built more for sprint/middle distances. But his dam and second maternal dam were two-turn stakes winners and I was encouraged to see noted Southern California clocker Andy Harrington, who sells his National Turf Clocker Report for Southern California tracks at, say Lombo “may handle the distance.”

I like the addition of top jockey and excellent speed rider Flavien Prat. He gets off Shivermetimbers, who appears to be the only rival capable of applying early pressure, and the presence of Rafael Bejarano aboard Shivermetimbers makes me think the colt will be looking to sit off a target.

Lombo drew well in post 4, with no speed to his inside and looks to be the third choice at best in the wagering. I will play him straight and single in multi-race wagers.