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Robert B. Lewis Preview: Competitive Field Kick-Starts Santa Anita’s Derby Trail
Roman Centurian breaking his maiden (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Robert B. Lewis Preview: Competitive Field Kick-Starts Santa Anita’s Derby Trail

ARCADIA, CA – A graded stakes champion, a pair of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) contenders, and several impressive maiden winners are part of the competitive field entered for Saturday’s $100,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.

The Robert B. Lewis is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to 3-year-olds offering 10 Kentucky Derby (G1) points to the winner, 4 to second, 2 to third, and 1 to fourth. This year’s edition is the penultimate event on an 8-race card and has a local post time of PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Robert B. Lewis:

1. Medina Spirit 5/2 – He was a sharp 3-length winner going 5 1/2 furlongs at Los Alamitos on debut, then backed it up with a strong runner-up effort while stretching out in the local 1-mile Sham Stakes (G3). He was closing fast in that race and only missed by 3/4 of a length behind Life Is Good, who’s at or near the top of everyone’s Kentucky Derby contenders list.

2. Rombauer 8/1 – After running twice in turf routes (and winning once) to start his career, he came closing with a flurry to finish a close second in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) over this course and distance. He failed to back that up in November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, finishing fifth in his final start before taking a break and returning here.

3. Parnelli 12/1 – The first of two entries from the John Shirreffs barn hit the board in all 5 prior starts, including finishing third in the Sham last time out. However, he was 13 3/4 lengths behind the winner and 13 lengths behind Medina Spirit, who returns here. He’s also finished behind Spielberg and Hot Rod Charlie. It’s hard seeing him turning all of those tables at once.

4. Hot Rod Charlie 3/1 – It took him 4 tries to break his maiden, but he did it by a neck over Parnelli in his dirt route debut. Trainer Doug O’Neill aggressively sent him to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he finished second by less than a length to Essential Quality, the champion 2-year old. He’s worked well in the time since then and gets Joel Rosario to ride.

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5. Roman Centurian 8/1 – He finished fourth on debut behind Life Is Good and Wipe the Slate, two horses who continued showing their class in their next starts, then broke his maiden here by 3 3/4 lengths while stretching out to this distance. The meet’s leading rider (through Friday) Juan Hernandez retains the mount for the third straight time.

6. Waspirant 20/1 – He gives the graded stakes ranks a third consecutive try with his connections hoping for much better success than his past 2, when he finished fourth while getting dominated by 10 and 19 3/4 lengths. The second Shirreffs entry, he hasn’t looked great in his morning works, either, raising the question of why his connections placed him here.

7. Wipe the Slate 4/1 – He was second to Life Is Good on debut, then was a clear 3 1/4-length winner while covering 7 furlongs here on December 26. The 88 Beyer Speed Figure that he earned places him third-best behind stablemate Hot Rod Charlie (94) and Medina Spirit (99), but he’ll have to extend his power through two turns for the first time against a tough field.

8. Spielberg 7/2 – The $1 million son of Union Rags needed 4 starts to break his maiden, an uncharacteristic string of bad luck for a barn that fires big debut winners at a high rate. He showed fight to win the Los Al Futurity (G2) by a nose last time out, plus the runner-up The Great One broke his maiden very nicely last weekend and earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

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