The grade II Santa Catalina Stakes, to be run March 4 at Santa Anita Park, will be renamed to honor the memory of the late owner/breeder Robert Lewis beginning in 2007, track president Ron Charles announced Saturday.Effective next year, the Santa Catalina, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, will be called the Robert B. Lewis Memorial. The race has served as an important stepping stone to the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) since its inception in 1935. This Saturday will mark the 68th running of the race, expected to showcase California's leading Triple Crown candidate, Brother Derek.Lewis, who passed away at age 81 on Feb. 17, owned horses along with his wife Beverly for 16 years. The Lewises won the Kentucky Derby twice (Silver Charm in 1997 and Charismatic in 1999), three Preakness Stakes (gr. I), one Belmont Stakes (gr. I), three Breeders' Cup races, the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), and had six of their horses win Eclipse Awards. Charismatic was voted Horse of the Year honors in 1999.A tireless supporter of California racing in particular, Mr. Lewis was a member and chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Winners Foundation, and upon his death, was a director and vice president of The Oak Tree Racing Association."It was an honor for me personally to have known Bob as I did for the past 15 years," said Charles. "We worked closely together on many issues, and he was the most selfless man I have ever met. His overriding concern was always to try and do the best thing, to do that which would most benefit our industry and those who worked in it. He treated everyone with dignity and respect, and time and time again he went out of his way to help people, and he was always accessible to those in need." In the 71-year history of Santa Anita, only two races - the Charles H. Strub Stakes and the Frank E. Kilroe Mile - have been named for individuals.
"It is indeed fitting and appropriate that Bob Lewis be included in this select company," said Charles. "Through this race for generations to come, horsemen and the public alike will be able to associate Bob Lewis with aspiring young 3-year-olds on their way to the Santa Anita Derby. We're honored that Beverly and the entire Lewis family agree that this is a fitting way to help perpetuate his legacy and to remember the best that Bob and Beverly Lewis have helped to bring to the Thoroughbred industry."