The Road to the Derby makes stops in three locales this Saturday with the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Cal., the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Fla., and the Grade III Withers Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, NY. Each of these races offers a purse of $200,000 and a points payout of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers under the new Road to the Kentucky Derby point system.
The Robert B. Lewis stakes drew a short field of only four runners. The race has never seen a field this short in its 74 previous editions. Although he’s only a maiden winner, Bob Baffert’s Flashback will likely go off as the post-time favorite in the 1 1/16 mile route. It’s not new for Baffert to send a maiden winner into stakes company like this and come out a winner, e.g., The Factor, Bodemeister. In his debut race at Betfair Hollywood Park in Dec., Flashback took out a field of nine competitors going seven-furlongs in a quick 1:23. He’s trained steadily since and has already made the list on several handicappers’ top Kentucky Derby contenders.
In addition to taking on his much more experienced stablemate, Den’s Legacy, Flashback will face He’s Had Enough, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up. The connections of last year’s Robert B. Lewis and Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another, have teamed again with an eye on a repeat victory courtesy of He’s Had Enough. Although he has only a maiden victory, his stakes experience should give him an advantage.