California-bred gelding Caracortado knocked off a pair of highly-touted 3-year-olds and stayed unbeaten in five lifetime starts as he was much the best in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) Feb. 13 at Santa Anita.
A son of Cat Dreams, out of the Maria's Mon mare Mons Venus, Caracortado began his racing career last fall at Fairplex when winning a $40,000 maiden claimer. He has not lost since and earned his way into the 1 1/16-mile Robert Lewis thanks to a game victory in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes Dec. 26 at Santa Anita.
With regular rider Paul Atkinson in the irons, Caracortado raced comfortably in third through the early going while the two favorites, Tiz Chrome and American Lion (both by Tiznow), battled each other on the front end. Tiz Chrome, undefeated in two starts for Bob Baffert, never got a breather through opening splits of :23.27, :47.11, and 1:11.25 as Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) winner American Lion pressed his rival the whole way.
Tiz Chrome, with Garrett Gomez aboard, still led as they made their way around the final turn, but Caracortado was making his bid from the outside and came up to tackle the two leaders when they started for home. The chestnut gelding hit the eighth pole a length in front and extended his lead in upper stretch. He hit the wire 1 3/4 lengths in front of Dave in Dixie, who closed well under Joel Rosario to get second from American Lion. Tiz Chrome tired to finish fourth in a field of only five.
The final time over Pro-Ride was 1:41.75, the fastest time of the meet at the distance.
“This horse is very mature; he acts like an older horse," Atkinson said. "You can do anything with him. You can put him on the lead or he’ll relax off the pace like he did today.
"Going down the backside, I was sitting behind the frontrunners and I really wanted to wait a little longer with him today, but those two horses (Tiz Chrome and American Lion) that were on the lead are good horses and I didn’t want to let them get away from me. Leaving the quarter pole, I asked my horse to go and he went. He finished up like a really nice horse.”
Caracortado, whose name means “Scarface” in Spanish, is trained and co-owned by his breeder, Mike Machowsky, who races his horses under Lo Hi Racing. The gelding is also co-owned by Don Blahut. His five wins have earned him $199,200.
“He had an advantage in recency (of races) and already going two turns successfully," Machowsky said. "Some of the others were coming off a longer layoff than he was. Every time I ask him, he does what I want. I read what everybody writes about him, that he’s kind of off-bred, not a blueblood. But he’s honest; you can’t knock that. I think (being a gelding and having a low-profile rider are) part of it, but if he’s under the radar now, he shouldn’t be.
"We’ll look at the San Felipe next (grade II on March 13) and see if Lookin At Lucky comes at us. I think my horse will love the dirt, but I’m not anxious to ship him right now.”
Sent off as the fourth choice, Caracortado paid $11, $4.60, and $2.60. The $1 exacta (4-1) returned $19.80 and the $1 trifecta (4-1-3) was $51.40.
The Robert Lewis was one of three graded stakes at Santa Anita rescheduled from Feb. 6 when rain forced those races to be cancelled.