2015 Robert B. Lewis Stakes Picks and Analysis

Rematches highlight exceptional weekend stakes battles at Santa Anita

2015 Robert B. Lewis Stakes-G3 , Race 5, Santa Anita Park, Saturday, February 7, 2015

Conditions: 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16-miles, Dirt, Purse: $150,000

Race Selections

  1. 1. Firing Line
  2. 2. Dortmund
  3. 3. Rock Shandy

Race Analysis

The 2015 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita features a sizzling rematch between Los Alamitos Futurity-G1 winner Dortmund and runner-up Firing Line.

Neither horse has run since the December 20 Futurity, a race in which the first three finishers were separated by only a whisker, but Firing Line forced the pace in that race and later dueled through the stretch with the pacesetter before just missing to Dortmund, who had a dream trip stalking the top pair.

There doesn’t appear to be any real speed in the 2015 Lewis and Firing Line should have the lead by himself this time. He’s also got some fight in him. Not only did he battle hard to put away the speed in the Futurity, he found more when he saw Dortmund coming. It was too close to call at the wire, but Dortmund was given the nod by a head, which seemed awful generous. It was much closer than that.

Firing Line reversed his running style in the Futurity after breaking his maiden from off the pace at Del Mar, which represents another profitable angle, and we’ll also give the jockey edge to Gary Stevens over Martin Garcia, who rides favored Dortmund.

The trainer edge remains with Dortmund. Bob Baffert has won this race four times and is currently winning at a 17% clip, while Simon Callaghan, the trainer of Firing Line, is bogged down at seven percent. Callaghan is better than that (13% winners on the year) but Baffert remains one of the very on the road to the Kentucky Derby.

The top two in the Lewis are extremely tough to separate, and they seem to be a notch above the four rivals they’ll face on Saturday, but the speed edge goes to Firing Line at 7/5 on the morning line. We’ll bet Firing Line to win and play an Exactor box on the top pair, with a heavier Exactor play on Firing Line to finish on top of Dortmund.

The only other horse that looks to have a remote shot in the Lewis is the rapidly improving Rock Shandy, trained by Peter Miller (18%) and slated to be ridden by Victor Espinoza. Rock Shandy’s Beyer Speed Figure improved 15 points in his 3-year-old debut, but it still looks like he’ll need an all-out duel between the top pair to beat them.

Additional Race Wagers on the Santa Anita Card

The eighth race on the Santa Anita card should also be a doozy. The $500,000 San Antonio features a battle between 2014 Kentucky Derby winner and recent Hollywood Derby winner California Chrome and Malibu Stakes winner Shared Belief. This could turn into a battle for the ages.

Remember what happened to the previously undefeated Shared Belief in last year’s Breeders’ Cup, when he finished fourth behind California Chrome. He got slammed and lost all chance. His comeback race in the seven-furlong Malibu was impressive, as he simply refused to lose at a distance that was too short for him. Now 8-for-9 during his career, he’ll relish the 1 1/8-miles of the San Antonio.

California Chrome will likely have the lead on Shared Belief into the stretch after tracking speed horse Alfa Bird. If Alfa Bird puts up any kind of fight when California Chrome tries to go by him, another edge goes to Shared Belief. But California Chrome is in excellent form off a solid grass victory in the Hollywood Derby on the grass. Sound, sharp and ready to rock n’ roll, he should give Shared Belief all he can handle.

We’ll make a win bet on Shared Belief and an Exactor box on the top pair with double the Exactor amount bet on Shared Belief to finish on top.

Another star in the making and Kentucky Derby hopeful worth watching on Saturday is El Kabeir, who should dominate in the $250,000 Withers Stakes, which goes as the eighth race at Aqueduct. Listed at 8/5 on the morning line, that seems generous on a double stakes winner facing six rivals who have only broken their maidens.

If you can get it, take it.