Brian Nadeau’s Road to the Triple Crown: The Robert B. Lewis

Santa Anita: The $150,000 Robert Lewis at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 10-4-2-1)

by Brian Nadeau

A short field kicks off the path to the Santa Anita Derby and it’s favored #5 MUCHO GUSTO (8-5) who looks tough to beat for Baffert off a clear second to stablemate Improbable in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity when last seen in December, as this son of Mucho Macho Man owns a decided tactical edge over his main rival, #4 GUNMETAL GRAY (9-5), who spots some tactical speed to the pick and seems at the mercy of the pace. The latter, a son of Exchange Rate, does get a few bonus points for winning the local GIII Sham going two turns last month for Hollendorfer, which built on his solid second-place finish in the GI American Pharoah here in September. Meeting winners for the first time is never easy, but #6 NOLO CONTESTO (5-2) inched clear in his local maiden win last time—his first at two turns—and this son of Pioneerof the Nile has a ton of upside for Sadler off just two starts. It looks like #2 MAGNIFICENT MCCOOL (8-1) has a “best of the rest” look to him, as this pricey son of Giant’s Causeway needed the turf last time to finally break his maiden for O’Neill, after nibbling in a trio of two-turn dirt starts.

Selections:

#5 Mucho Gusto

#4 Gunmetal Gray

#6 Nolo Contesto

#2 Magnificent McCool

Gunmetal Gray and Mike Smith win the G3 Sham Stakes. © BENOIT PHOTO

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