Robert B. Lewis S. (gr. II)

(gr. II , 8.5f ,)

GREAT HUNTER (DK B/ h, 119 lb) $120,000
Aptitude —Zenith , by Roy
B—Ivy Dell Stud, PA.; O—J. Paul Reddam; T—Doug F. O'Neill

Sam P. (CH h, 117 lb) $40,000
Cat Thief —Affirmed Legacy , by Affirmed
B—Whisper Hill Farm, KY.; O—Starlight Racing; T—Todd A. Pletcher

Saint Paul (CH g, 116 lb) $24,000
Sweetsouthernsaint —Talullah , by Twining
B—Paul & Tamara Hoffner & Partners, FL.; O—Michael Bello; T—Bob Baffert

Margins: 1¼, 2¼, 3¼. Others: Boutrous 117($12,000) , French Transition 115($4,000) , Scat Thief 115 , Tiago 115 , Hurry Up Austin 115 , Tap It Light 120 . Winning Jockey, Corey S. Nakatani.

Posting a victory in the March 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II), Great Hunter continued his great efforts and again represented his sire, Aptitude, who was the leading second-crop sire last year, due largely in part to his son’s performances on the racetrack.

The Robert B. Lewis was Great Hunter’s first race in four months, since finishing third in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. His connections hope he will return to Churchill to contend the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

“I’m just so excited, not having been in this position ever,” winning trainer Doug O’Neill said. “You never know what to expect from a horse that’s had such a good campaign as a 2-year-old, as far as getting the next year started, but it couldn’t have worked out better.”

Formerly the Santa Catalina, the race was renamed in honor of the late Bob Lewis, a popular owner who narrowly missed winning the Triple Crown with Horse of the Year Charismatic and champion Silver Charm.

Great Hunter made his first two starts in the name of Ilona Whetstone, who purchased him for $30,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale from Phil Fanning’s Ivy Dell Stud. Great Hunter was consigned as agent by Walnut Green, owned at that time by brothers Russell and Richard Jones. The Joneses have since sold the operation to Mark Reid.

Acquired privately by Reddam after breaking his maiden, Great Hunter has never finished off the board in eight career starts. His best effort came in winning last year’s Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland. Placing in four other graded events, the Robert B. Lewis pushed the colt’s earnings to $750,000.

Bred in Pennsylvania by Ivy Dell Stud, Great Hunter is out of the stakes-winning Roy mare Zenith, who was most recently purchased for $30,000 by Walnut Green, agent for Daniel M. Ryan, at the 2006 Keeneland January mixed sale. Consigned by Ivy Dell Stud breeding stock dispersal with the aid of Walnut Green, agent, she was in foal to Golden Missile.

A half-sister to stakes winner and stakes producer Im Out First (by Allen’s Prospect), 10-year-old Zenith is the dam of one other winner. She has a 2-year-old filly named Glitzen Glory (by Honour and Glory) and a Golden Missile yearling colt. Boarded at Walnut Green near West Grove, Pa., Zenith was barren for 2007 to the cover of Harlan’s Holiday.

Aptitude, the sire of three stakes winners, stands for a fee of $20,000 at Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms near Lexington.—E.M.