Trainer Bob Baffert will send out a pair of runners on Saturday in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis (G2) at Santa Anita with 10 Derby points up for grabs.
The Hall of Fame trainer will saddle the likely betting favorite Midnight Hawk, who is coming off picking up 10 Derby points for his win in the Sham (G3) on Jan. 11, and will send out Chitu, who makes his stakes debut after breaking his maiden and taking a first level optional claimer in his first two career outings.
The Lewis is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points races, with 10-4-2-1 points at stake for the top four finishers of the race. The race serves as a prep for two other Derby points races that will be contested at Santa Anita- the San Felipe (G2) on March 8 and the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 5.
We have plenty of stakes action coming up this weekend, and the Lewis has a pair of supporting stakes on the card- the $300,000 San Antonio (G2) and the $200,000 San Marcos (G2). Game On Dude will go in the San Antonio in his first start since running second in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.
The co-features at Gulfstream Park on Saturday are the $150,000 Suwannee River (G3) and the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3). I will have all of the stakes action in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
Coming up on Sunday is the debut of the “Jockey Club Tour on FOX” which will feature the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1). The nationally televised series will be on FOX Sports 1 at 5:00 eastern. I will have a preview of the Donn up at Bleacher Report on Friday.
Let’s head out to Santa Anita for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Santa Anita Race 8 The Robert B. Lewis (G2) Post time 4:00 PT
7 Chitu 7-2
1 Candy Boy 2-1
3 Midnight Hawk 9-5
2 Diamond Bachelor 6-1
Chitu is going to be the better price of the two runners sent out here by the Bob Baffert barn. The colt took the field gate to wire to break his maiden in his debut and came back to beat first level optional claimers over the main track at Santa Anita on Dec. 27. The runner up in that race was Street Icon, who came back to beat first level optional claimers in his next outing on Jan. 16 with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. Our top pick was a $300,000 Ocala purchase and now stretches out and faces stakes company for the first time. He is by Henny Hughes out of an A.P. Indy mare, so he looks as if he has enough pedigree to handle the stretch out. He put in a couple of bullet works since his last outing and figures to be right in the mix early.
Candy Boy makes his first start since running second to Shared Belief in the CashCall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park back in December. The colt that beat him continues to be one of the early betting favorites for the Kentucky Derby. It took the John Sadler trainee four tries to break his maiden but he did run into several talented runners in those maiden races including Tap It Rich, Bond Holder, and New Year’s Day, the latter going on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). The colt is out of the stakes winner She’s an Eleven ($243,560) who has dropped two other foals to race, top earner Sharp Act ($26,470).
Midnight Hawk figures to be sent off as the betting favorite off his win in the Sham (G3) in his first go against winners. He only had to beat three in that race although the runner up Kristo is a talented runner. The colt was a good-looking maiden winner two back in his debut despite getting off a beat slow, drawing away to win by 6 ¼ lengths. With Mike Smith up it seems likely his stablemate Chitu will have the jump on him early and will likely offer more bang for the buck than this guy.
WIN: Chitu to win at 3-1 or better.
EXACTA: 1,7 / 1,2,3,7
TRIFECTA: 1,7 / 1,2,3,7 / 1,2,3,5,7
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