Tapizar , probably the leading 3-year-old in California following his 4 1/4-length victory in last month's Sham Stakes (gr. III), appears to be a standout once again in the $250,000 Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) Feb. 12 at Santa Anita.
Comma to the Top, winner of Hollywood Park's CashCall Futurity (gr. I) Dec. 18, was also entered in the Lewis as the 123-pound high weight, but is expected to run instead in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields the same day. None of Tapizar’s other opponents have proven themselves.
The Lewis, which at 1 1/8 miles is the same distance as the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), is named for the immensely popular former owner and breeder who died in 2006. Formerly the Santa Catalina Stakes, it has produced five of the past 16 winners of the Santa Anita Derby.
Two-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Steve Asmussen, who had never competed at Santa Anita on a large scale before this season, saddles Tapizar, who crushed four rivals in the Jan. 15 Sham. Seven opponents are entered against the son of Tapit this time, although like Comma to the Top, Anthony's Cross is also entered in the El Camino Real. Their defections would reduce the Lewis field to six. Anthony's Cross finished third, 9 1/4 lengths behind the favorite, in the Sham.
Tapizar's development was slowed last September when he stumbled and lost his rider and tore a chunk of flesh from a foot. He has raced five times, all in route events, while earning $105,632 for owner/breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds. It took three races before he broke his maiden by 10 ½ lengths at Churchill Downs Nov. 27. He followed the maiden victory with his Sham triumph, when he covered the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:40.38 as the 11-10 favorite.
“I’m blessed to have him,” said Asmussen of Tapizar. “He’s a tremendously talented horse.”
Garrett Gomez, aboard for the commanding win in the Sham, will be back atop Tapizar in the Lewis.
Of the others, Riveting Reason ran third in both the Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) and Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) last year. In eight career starts, his lone victory was over maidens Nov. 25 at Hollywood Park.
Thirtyfirststreet captured the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes over state-breds Dec. 26 for trainer Doug O'Neill and has won two of three in his brief career.
Diamond A Racing Corp.'s Ten Devils, a son of Rock Hard Ten from the Richard Mandella barn, was second in the ungraded Eddie Logan Stakes on turf Dec. 31 after breaking his maiden in his debut at Hollywood Park in November. He was most recently second as the 3-5 favorite in an optional claiming allowance Jan. 23. All three of his starts so far have been on turf.
Quail Hill and Wegner are maiden winners.
The Lewis Stakes is the sixth race on a program that also includes the Santa Maria Stakes (gr. II)
$250,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II, Race 6, 3:05 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Wegner (KY), R Bejarano, 118, B Baffert
2. Anthony's Cross (PA), J Rosario, 118, E G Harty
3. Comma to the Top (FL), C S Nakatani, 123, P Miller
4. Tapizar (KY), G K Gomez, 120, S M Asmussen
5. Ten Devils (KY), J Talamo, 118, R E Mandella
6. Riveting Reason (KY), V Espinoza, 118, M K Cho
7. Quail Hill (KY), M A Pedroza, 118, D E Hofmans
8. Thirtyfirststreet (CA), P A Valenzuela, 118, D F O'Neill
Blinkers On: Anthony's Cross; Blinkers Off: Riveting Reason