Combo took the Lewis field wire-to-wire at Santa Anita on Saturday in one of the three major Derby prep races run over the weekend.
Let’s take a look.
Fractions: 23.40, 47.26, 1:12.20, 1:45.41 (1 1/16 miles)
Race Flow: Fair pace
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 86
On the Pace: The pace wasn’t blazing but it wasn’t a complete walk. Lombo, stretching out from sprints, took the field the whole way at 8-1. His closest pursuer, 36-1 Dark Vader, did hold third.
On the Winner: Lombo, trained by Mike Pender, wired the field in the Lewis though he didn’t do it in an especially fast final time considering he had it his own way on the front end. That said, this was not a strong field, and it was made weaker by the fact that, as we’ll get to below, the two 2-1 co-favorites did no running whatsoever. We’re skeptical of Lombo when he returns next time against what will be a far deeper group of opponents.
On the Others: We bet the runner-up, Ayacara, who was back on dirt for the first time since the fall. He ran fine, considering the two pace-horses were 1-3 and he rallied from 8th, but he had a good inside run and the race didn’t come up especially fast. We’d need to be confident that he’d get a very fast pace to bet him in his next race. Third-place finisher Dark Vader tracked the pace from the 2-path and was all-in on the turn. That he held third doesn’t speak well of the horses behind him.
Shivermetimbers stalked between horses but was all done on the turn. Peace stalked four-wide and he too was all done on the turn. The 2-1 co-favorites both disappointed. The others did little to inspire despite the race being mostly controlled up front. This just doesn’t have the feel of a strong race moving forward.
What’s Next: The next race at Santa Anita is the March 10th San Felipe Stakes, the target of Grade-1 winning Bolt d’Oro for his three-year old debut. Bob Baffert also has McKinzie, winner of the Los Al Futurity and the Sham, and Breeders Cup Juvenile runner-up Solomini and could have one of those horses in the San Felipe as well.