Race of the Week 2017

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Pedigree Power

Handicapping the Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Candy Boy Gary Stevens 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Alex Evers

The Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G-2) has been through a few name changes over the years since its origin in 1935 as the Santa Catalina Handicap. Renamed in honor of one of California’s greatest horse owners, the race has showcased aspiring colts and fillies looking to take their next step on the road to the 2014 Kentucky Derby. The Robert B. Lewis Stakes honor roll includes the names of Sham, Ferdinand, Artax, and General Challenge. Not all of them made their presence felt in the Triple Crown races, but they became good horses in their own right. More recently, 2009 Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Pioneerof The Nile fought his way to a runner-up position in the Kentucky Derby while 2012 victor I’ll Have Another captured both races. 
This year, a competitive field of seven colts will go to the post in the 1 1/16 mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes. The winner will earn ten points towards their trip to the Kentucky Derby.  Ashley Tamulonis, a/k/a/ Florida Filly and I, review the field.
CANDY BOY—He may only have one win in five starts, but this colt is one that I feel is on the upswing. He made an explosive early move in the CashCall that took him from the back of the field up to the lead, but then he did not have enough left to hold the lead. If he hadn’t moved so soon, he may very well have won that day, or at the very least made winner Shared Belief work harder for the win. This will be his 2014 debut, but his works have been solid. Contender.
CANDY BOY (Candy Ride (ARG) - She's an Eleven, by In Excess (IRE)) has zero early speed, unusual for the offspring of Candy Ride.  As Ashley observed, he made an explosive middle move in the CashCall, but melted in the later stages.  The premature move may have cost the race and I expect Gary Stevens won’t make that mistake again.  Candy Boy’s Brisnet speed figures have improved in every race.  He and his stakes winning dam own the only blacktype in two generations, although Test Stakes (G-1) heroine Leave Me Alone is part of this distaff family. I’m sweet on this colt and the right ride could have the rest looking like suckers.  Contender.
DIAMOND BACHELOR—At this point, I’m not really sure what to do with this son of War Front. His only prior start on dirt was a 9th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He’s been working well on dirt in the mornings, but how that form transfers in the afternoons remains to be seen. He gets a good bit of turf influence from both halves of his pedigree and may ultimately end up being best on that surface. Pass.
DIAMOND BACHELOR (War Front - Seasoned, by Pulpit) showed all signs of becoming a really nice horse in his first three races.  I felt the colt had a decent shot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.  Then his trainer Biacone, known for being a trainer of primarily turf horses, throws the colt into the wrong Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. Diamond Bachelor’s sire does get almost 40% dirt winners and his dam placed once in a minor stakes on the dirt at 1 1/16 miles, but ultimately, she carved out a career as a turf miler. Diamond Bachelor has been working well over the dirt.  But here’s the thing about turf horses.  It isn’t that they can’t handle the dirt surface, they aren’t accustomed to - and don’t like -  the dirt kickback in their faces.  Diamond Bachelor’s front running style may minimize this, but I think his connections are trying to turn the colt into something he isn’t.  Turf trainer? Check. Turf Jock? Check.  Pass? Check.
MIDNIGHT HAWK—By Midnight Lute, Midnight Hawk is the first half of the undefeated duo California stalwart trainer Bob Baffert sends out in this race. Baffert has always maintained that Midnight Lute could have gone longer had he had the chance, but though Midnight Hawk’s pedigree is riddled with sprinters, his Dosage Index indicates that he will be able to go longer. He looked good when winning what was essentially a match race last out in the G3 Sham. He retains jockey Mike Smith, and Smith and Baffert have been winning at a 29% clip together. Contender.
MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute - Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power (SAF)) is a large, long striding colt who should appreciate the extra distance in the RB Lewis, and not because of his Dosage points, which, incidentally, are received from Fappiano (I/C), His Majesty (C) and Round Table (S).  All three stallions are found four generations back in the pedigree.  Any attributes they offer have been passed along to through their sons and daughters.  Undefeated in two career starts, including the G-3 Sham, Midnight Hawk is still learning.  His works are typical Baffert fast.  Read more about Midnight Hawk’s pedigree and Derby chances here. Contender.
HOME RUN KITTEN—The name says it all…a son of Kitten’s Joy. The Robert B. Lewis will be his first start on dirt, but Kitten’s Joy’s progeny generally run best on turf. Add in the turf influences from the bottom half of his pedigree, and you have a colt whose pedigree screams “run me over the green stuff!” Pass.
HOME RUN KITTEN  (Kitten's Joy - Grand Slam Girl, by Grand Slam) is another turf colt trying his hooves over the dirt. His dam’s only placing came over the dirt, her pedigree is primarily dirt oriented (Grand Slam, Tabasco Cat  Forty Niner, Secretariat) and Kitten’s Joy gets 30% winners over dirt. That being said, Ashley is batting 1000 with her comments on this contender. Pass.
COOL SAMURAI—When the speed up front starts to backpedal, Cool Samurai is going to be running late to pick up the pieces. He ran into Wicked Strong in his debut but bounced back in his second start to break his maiden. I don’t think he’s quite in the same class as some of the others, but he could fill out the exotics. Worth a look at the right price.
COOL SAMURAI (First Samurai - Uzume, by Unbridled's Song) won his maiden in his second start, traveling a mile over the Santa Anita dirt in 1:36.47.  Two weeks later, Midnight Hawk won the Sham in 1:36.48.  Cool Samurai finished second in his debut behind Remsen third place finisher Wicked Strong, however, he had to check in the stretch, which could have cost him the victory.  Cool Samurai’s dam is a half to Del Mar Derby winner Madeo and the second dam Passion Flower is a stakes winner, so there’s some quality in the chestnut gelding’s immediate family.  I agree with Ashley that this guy is worth a second look.  Contender.
EL NINO TERRIBLE—Dismissed at double digit odds in both of his U.S. starts, El Nino Terrible finally managed to break his maiden in his 3rd career start when stretching out and setting the pace for the first time. He has the pedigree to go longer and already has a win at this distance on this track. His chances are certainly not terrible.
EL NINO TERRIBLE (Malibu Moon - Shadow Giant, by Giant's Causeway) held on to win a 1 1/16 mile maiden contest in his last race.  The pace was average/slow, but this colt’s classic-oriented pedigree indicates that he’ll improve with time and distance. His dam is a half to the multiple graded stakes placed Ender’s Shadow and Ender’s Sister, while his third dam was the popular graded stakes veteran, Fit for a Queen. I think this colt can sit off of the pace and make a big move. I concur, Ashley, his chances are not terrible at all! Contender.
CHITU—Out of the winning A. P. Indy mare Sea Gift, Chitu is the second half of Baffert’s undefeated duo. He has never been a route of ground before and gets a good dose of sprinting speed from both halves of his pedigree. With the outside post, jockey Garcia will have to gun him out of the gate in order to get the preferred front-running spot for the colt. I’ll go with the first Baffert rather than the second.
CHITU (Henny Hughes - Sea Gift, by A.P. Indy) the other Baffert horse, has a speed over stamina pedigree. 1 1/16 miles should be within his scope. His second dam Ocean Queen Bay set a new course record in the 1 18 mile Meadows Breeders' Cup Derby (G-3) and two well-regarded Europeans, Toylsome, Champion French Sprinter, and St. Leger (Gr.1) hero Leading Light are relatives of hers.   Chitu flashed blazing speed in both starts at six furlongs and now adds an extra 2 ½ furlongs. He has :21 first quarter speed and can get a good position from the outside. Whether or not he can sustain it is another story.  Last year Baffert completed the exacta in the RB Lewis.  I’ve learned the hard way not to ignore the higher priced stablemate from a top barn. Contender.
Track bias: 76% of the 1 1/16 mile dirt races at Santa Anita are won by pace setters or pressers. However, last week, two races were held at this distance and both were won by horses coming from off of the pace. Fluke or is the track changing?
ASHLEY:  I really like the improving Candy Boy, and I believe he has a real shot here, especially since he’ll be sitting off the four speedsters. I will go with him over the classy Midnight Hawk. El Nino Terrible stands a chance of hanging around late, and Cool Samurai will help fill out the exotics while passing the leg weary front runners.
LAURIE: Midnight Hawk is the only competitor to flash a triple digit speed figure (on the dirt). He’s winning  on talent alone and is still learning. That’s scary.  Cool Samurai ran a comparable time to Midnight Hawk’s Sham Stakes. Unlike his Rival, Cool Samurai’s late pace speed figures have improved during the running of the race while Midnight Hawk’s have decreased. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulls an upset.  I also think he can sit closer to the pace.  Candy Boy has no early speed and will be hampered by the track bias. I tag him to come running past the rest.  If you’re betting, don’t leave Chitu and El Nino Terrible off your tickets. They fit in here.
As usual, Ashley and I agree on our selections. Hey, great handicappers think alike!



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Older Comments about Handicapping the Robert B. Lewis Stakes...

I'm not really big on Candy Boy. Think he won't get a piece of the money. I don't really like Midnight Hawk's works after the Sham but think he's just too talented to not be in the money. Distance might be an issue for Chitu, but still using him in case that AP Indy blood dominates his DNA. Think Cool Samurai gets the perfect setup to cap off a very big day for the Mosses and Shirreffs.
Cool Samauri or Chitu.
These lovely ladies do a wonderful job and have good insight but i think they messed up terribly by not liking Diamond Bachelor. This will make me bet a little more LOL
Round Table....Frappiano....His Majesty....Says it all
Nice analysis ladies. I'll go with Midnight Hawk over Cool Samurai and Chitu. GL
I like Cool Samurai and Candy Boy
been all over candyboy and really like this horse and the sire candy boy is one of my live longshots for early derby contenders. his race with shared belief is a major key race.. hawk isn't bad his sire lute had lung issues and i have seen 3 midnight lute horse storm 1 1/4.
I think the race sets up nicely for Cool Samurai. CS, Midnight Hawk, Candy Boy

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Meet Laurie Ross


I've been around horses for most of my life, working in racing stables as a hot walker and exercise rider in my teenage years, and later as a volunteer with rescued and retired racehorses. I became interested in pedigree when the sons and daughters of my favorite horses started their racing careers.   


For more than a decade, I've passionately studied pedigree, how it applies to handicapping and breeding theories. In 2010, I joined Horse Racing Nation as their Pedigree Analyst, focusing on juvenile stakes winners, Triple Crown contenders and first crop sires from a handicapping perspective.   


In 2011, I accepted the role of South Florida Coordinator and Advisory Board Member for the national non-profit Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan). Working closely with Gulfstream Park management and other race fans, we created a ThoroFan Chapter at Gulfstream Race Track. Our main project is assisting Thoroughbred rescue and re-training groups.


I continue to maintain my website Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds and blog of the same name. As a pedigree consultant, I specialize in assisting small to mid-size breeding/training operations with broodmare breeding reports, sales catalog analysis and recommendations on claims and private sales. 10 - 20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue and retraining groups.
I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic please contact me at lross@horseracingnation.com.

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