Kentucky Derby Preps: Robert B. Lewis Stakes

[As the road to the 147th Kentucky Derby rolls along, US Racing takes a look back at some history of many of the prep races that now offer qualifying points to Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 1.]

By Margaret Ransom

In 2007, the Santa Anita Derby (G1)/Kentucky Derby (G1) prep once known as the Santa Catalina Stakes was renamed the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) to honor one of the most beloved owners in thoroughbred racing who passed away the year before.

The familiar green and yellow silks representing Lewis and his beloved wife Beverly, and created in homage to the pair’s alma mater, the University of Oregon, were carried by some of the most accomplished runners in racing history, including Derby and Preakness winners Silver Charm and Charismatic (also the 1999 Horse of the Year), champions Serena’s Song, Orientate, and Folklore, to name a few.

The Lewis remains one of the few stakes still offered at The Great Race Place since the track opened in 1935, though not continuously due to a three-year absence during World War II, and since then some pretty familiar names have had their photo taken after reaching the wire in front. Among them: Sham and Ferdinand, classic-placed Pioneerof the Nile and dual classic winner I’ll Have Another.

Some other notable winners include champions Declan’s Moon, Artax, Dortmund and Mucho Gusto. A year ago, Thousand Words won the Lewis and made it as far as the paddock for the COVID-19 delayed Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5, but spooked in the paddock and flipped over, fracturing the arm of Bob Baffert’s assistant Jimmy Barnes. He was scratched from the race and went on to finish eighth in the Preakness, before closing out his career with a sixth-place finish in the Malibu Stakes (G1) on Dec. 26.

Baffert has saddled a record eight winners (1999, 2003, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020) and Hall of Famers Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay, Jr. each rode a record seven wins. The race has been contested at various distances from 7- to 9 furlongs and once at three furlongs in 1940, when it was offered for 2-year-olds. This year, once again, the Bob Lewis offers valuable road to the Derby points to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May on a 10-4-2-1 schedule to the top-four finishers.

Saturday’s weather in Arcadia will be cool but the rain from the previous days will be over and the high will reach the low 60s under mostly sunny skies.

The Robert B. Lewis field, which is the afternoon’s seventh race and will break from the gate at 3:30 p.m. PT.

Robert B. Lewis Stakes Field

The field for Saturday’s race by post position, with riders and trainers in parentheses:

PP
Jockey
Jockey
Trainer
1
Medina Spirit
Abel Cedillo
Bob Baffert
2
Rombauer
Mike Smith
Michael McCarthy
3
Parnelli
Umberto Rispoli
John Shirreffs)
4
Hot Rod Charlie
Joel Rosario
Doug O’Neill
5
Roman Centurian
Juan Hernandez
Simon Callaghan
6
Waspirant
Ricardo Gonzalez
John Shirreffs
7
Wipe the Slate
Mario Gutierrez
Doug O’Neill
8
Spielberg
Flavien Prat
, Bob Baffert
Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.