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A field of six 3-year-olds will take aim at Saturday’s $100,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park. The race serves as the first local Kentucky Derby Points Race of 2020, with points distributed to the top four finishers on a scale of 10-4-2-1. The Lewis serves as one of three Derby Preps this week, with Aqueduct hosting the Withers Stakes (G3) and Gulfstream Park hosting the Holy Bull Stakes (G3). The Lewis will go off as race six with a local post time of 3:00 PM PT.
It will come as no surprise that trainer Bob Baffert has the strong favorite in this race as Thousand Words leads the way. This colt was an impressive local maiden special weight winner on debut before taking home the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) last time out by a neck. He showed plenty of heart in that effort, his first around two turns. Flavien Prat will have the mount for the third straight time when Thousand Words breaks from post 2.
Much of the grandstand will be rooting for the MyRacehorse-owned Tizamagician, who broke his maiden impressively last time out over this track. The Tiznow colt gave his many owners “Derby Fever” after that effort, an exciting and positive development for horse racing. He has hit the board in five of six career starts, showing a good deal of consistency. He’ll break from post 3 for his stakes debut with Victor Espinoza aboard.
Baffert will also send out the Los Alamitos Futurity third-place finisher High Velocity, who will break from post 5. He was an impressive winner of the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) at Del Mar two starts back after breaking his maiden here while going 5 1/2 furlongs. He’ll get a new jockey, too, with Joel Rosario picking up the mount.
The full field from the rail out includes Encoder, Thousand Words, Tizamagician, Royal Act, High Velocity, and Zimba Warrior.
#2 Thousand Words – It’s always super-tough to go against Baffert in these races at Santa Anita Park, especially with a horse as highly-touted as Thousand Words. He is coming off of an impressive victory last time out in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), where he dug down deep to hold off a late charge form Anneau d’Or. Since then, he has been working like a monster, signaling that he is ready to run now. He is rumored to be one of Baffert’s best 3-year-olds and should be very tough to beat.
#3 Tizamagician – If this horse wins, our website might explode; both halves of The Magic Mike Show own shares in him. It would be an incredible story to see a MyRacehorse-owned runner in the Derby, giving a tremendous thrill to the many people who co-own him. He has shown ability from day one, but he had trouble finding the winner’s circle. That all changed last time out when he picked up an ultra-impressive maiden special weight score by 2 1/2 lengths over this track. His running style is exactly what you need to win a race like the Kentucky Derby and his speed figures compete with this group. At the very least, he should run well enough here to continue on the Derby Trail.
#5 High Velocity – He picked up two solid sprint victories to kick off his career before finishing a well-beaten third last time out in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). That effort was respectable, but he definitely got tired in the last stages. Here, he draws a nice outside post and also gets Joel Rosario on his back. That could help him relax a bit more and sit off the pace, which would help him get the added distance a bit more effectively.
#1 Encoder – It is very tough to see anyone but the “Big 3” winning this event, but Encoder is your most likely upset candidate. Making his dirt debut will be a challenge, but he does have some dirt pedigree on his dam’s side. He also figures to like longer races, which is something he gets here after running at a mile in four of his six prior starts. If the pace falls apart up front, he could pick up some pieces.
#6 Zimba Warrior – After breaking his maiden four races back, he has finished third in three straight stakes events, including the Sham Stakes (G3) last time out. Finishing third in stakes races is respectable, but he was not close to winning any of those spots.
#4 Royal Act – The likely longest shot on the board makes his dirt debut after two decent turf efforts. We’ll need to see a lot more to consider him a contender in a race like this.
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