Bob Baffert has been down the Kentucky Derby trail long enough to
know the first Saturday in May is light years away from Feb. 2, when one
of his most promising Triple Crown prospects, Flashback, goes postward
in an important steppingstone to the Run for the Roses on May 4, the
Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday.
Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, understandably is
taking a cautious approach with Flashback, even though the Lewis drew
its smallest field—four--than in its 74 previous runnings. There have
been several five-horse fields, the most recent being in 2010 when
Caracortado won under Paul Atkinson.
Flashback, a gray son of Tapit, will be making his 3-year-old
debut and only his second start in the Lewis. He broke his maiden last
Dec. 8 as the even-money favorite against eight rivals in a seven
furlong race at Betfair Hollywood Park for owners Gary and Mary West.
For Baffert, the Lewis is not necessarily about Flashback getting
battle-tested in a field similar in size to the Kentucky Derby, which
in recent years has drawn a capacity field of 20.
“Right now, you’re not shooting for the first Saturday in May,”
said Baffert, who won the Derby in 1997 with Silver Charm, in 1998 with
Real Quiet and in 2002 with War Emblem. “It’s my horse’s second out,
he’s going long, and I want it to be a good experience for him.
“I want him to run well and come out of it healthy. This race is just like a scrimmage. That’s the way I look at it.”
The field for the Lewis, the fourth of 10 races Saturday: Little
Jerry, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Flashback, Julien Leparoux, 3-5; Den’s Legacy,
Garrett Gomez, 5-2; and He’s Had Enough, Mario Gutierrez, 3-1.