Newgate wins the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in an all-Bob Baffert race
There was never a question that trainer Bob Baffert would have a horse win Saturday’s Grade 3 $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita since he trained all four in the embarrassingly small field. The only question was which one would cross the finish line first.
It turned out to be the favorite, Newgate, with Frankie Dettori aboard. It was Newgate’s second win in six starts.
It was a Kentucky Derby points qualifying race, except that Baffert is currently not allowed to accrue Derby points because he is one year into a two-year ban from Churchill Downs after the contested disqualification of Medina Spirit in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
On Saturday, Arabian Knight went to the lead in the 1 1/16-mile race. Newgate was comfortable at the back of the compact field early in the race. Dettori urged the 3-year-old to move up entering the far turn and then found himself running with Hard to Figure at the top of the stretch. Newgate, running on the outside, pulled ahead late and won by a neck.
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Newgate paid $4.00 and $2.60 followed by Hard to Figure, Worcester and Arabian Lion. There was no show betting.
“I was actually nervous before the race, worried that something weird might happen,” Baffert told Santa Anita’s media relations department. “But I can relax now.”
Baffert won the Lewis for the 11th time. He was a trainer for the late horse owner and philanthropist.
“Frankie Dettori has been teaching [Newgate] how to sit back, relax and come up with a punch and that’s what he did,” Baffert said of Saturday’s race. “Arabian Lion looked like he was in a good spot, came up a little tired, and we are not sure about the distance limitations.
“Worcester was right there and I think Hard to Figure ran an incredible race. … I’m very proud of all of them.”
The fact that Baffert had the only horses in the stakes is a testament to his dominance of 3-year-old dirt racing at Santa Anita, where a majority of the horses run on the turf.
All the Kentucky Derby points from the Lewis Stakes were vacated, for now. Baffert was in Kentucky on Thursday and Friday as part of a preliminary injunction he has filed against Churchill Downs that would allow him to enter horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Flightline wins two Eclipse Awards as Horse of the Year and top Older Dirt Male. Epicenter beats Taiba for best 3-Year-Old Male and Todd Pletcher is top Trainer.
One issue that was raised during the two-day hearing in a federal courthouse was that the positive test for scopolamine on Justify in 2018 was a factor in Churchill’s decision to suspend the trainer.
Baffert attorney Clark Brewster then got Churchill Downs track president Mike Anderson to say he did not know that the California Horse Racing Board case against Baffert was dismissed because the positive test was the result of contamination that affected horses in other barns.
The judge is expected to issue a decision in the next few weeks.
In other races Saturday at Santa Anita, Quattroelle ($23.60 to win) won the one-mile turf Grade 3 $100,000 Megahertz Stakes, Fun to Dream (3.00) won the Grade 2 $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes over seven furlongs and Earls Rock ($9.80) took the one-mile turf Grade 3 $100,000 Thunder Road Stakes.
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