Which Bob Baffert Runner Should You Bet in the Robert B. Lewis?

Gambling
Los Alamitos Futurity winner Spielberg is one of two Bob Baffert-trained horses entered in Saturday’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Question: How many times has Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won the $100,000, Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park?

If you answered “a bunch of times,” well… you’re technically correct. Though the more precise answer is eight times, including four of the last six editions.

It appears Baffert will have every opportunity to secure a ninth Robert B. Lewis victory when the 2021 renewal takes place on Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile race has drawn eight talented 3-year-olds to the mix, all of them vying for coveted qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. But the two horses trained by Baffert look especially formidable.

The most accomplished of the duo is #8 Spielberg, an experienced chestnut with half a dozen runs under his belt already. Sold for $1 million as a yearling, the son of Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags has always been one of Baffert’s top prospects for the 2021 classics. As a 2-year-old he displayed significant talent against tough competition, finishing second in the Grade 1 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity and third in the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes before securing a signature victory of his own in the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity.

Spielberg’s effort in the Los Alamitos Futurity was noteworthy on a number of levels. Not only did Spielberg show impressive tenacity to catch front-running The Great One (who returned to win a maiden race by 14 lengths), he also proved that he can handle 1 1/16 miles, which had previously been something of a question mark.

But along the way, Spielberg has shown flashes of inconsistency. Prior to the Los Alamitos Futurity, he was soundly beaten as the heavy favorite in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes. And in the American Pharoah, he weakened to finish 5 ½ lengths behind the winner and 4 ¾ lengths behind #2 Rombauer, who returns to the fray in the Robert B. Lewis.

With this in mind, perhaps Spielberg’s stablemate #1 Medina Spirit is a better play. Whereas Spielberg’s form seems pretty well established at this point, Medina Spirit has a ton of upside with just two starts under his belt. Considering the son of Protonico sold for just $35,000 as a 2-year-old, the fact he has a shot to upset his million-dollar stablemate is a testament to how unpredictable young racehorses can be.

Medina Spirit was certainly impressive in his debut sprinting at Los Alamitos. After dueling for the lead, Medina Spirit kicked clear to win by three lengths, a noteworthy achievement since Medina Spirit’s pedigree is geared strongly toward success running a mile or farther.

With this in mind, it wasn’t surprising to see Medina Spirit take a big step forward when stretching out over a mile for the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Facing stablemate (and early Kentucky Derby favorite) Life Is Good, Medina Spirit was put in a tricky position tracking the early pace from second place. At the top of the stretch he trailed Life Is Good by four lengths and was seemingly on his way to a distant defeat.

But Medina Spirit never gave up – not even remotely – and tenaciously regained lost ground down the homestretch. At the finish line he was less than a length behind Life Is Good and 13 lengths clear of third-place finisher #3 Parnelli, earning strong speed figures that stamp Medina Spirit as a viable candidate for victory in the Robert B. Lewis.

Medina Spirit wasn’t originally expected to compete in the Robert B. Lewis, but after working impressively in company with Spielberg on Jan. 22, he was added to the entries. I take this as a sign that Baffert is expecting a big effort from Medina Spirit, so I’m keen to play the improving colt on top of all my tickets.

For second and third place, I’ll strongly respect the chances of #4 Hot Rod Charlie, runner-up in the Grade 1 TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance after making an early move into a fast pace. The Doug O’Neill trainee was beaten less than a length by Essential Quality (who is expected to be named champion 2-year-old male of 2020 on Thursday evening) and finished ahead of Keepmeinmind, who came right back to win the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Hot Rod Charlie’s stablemate #7 Wipe the Slate, an impressive maiden winner at Santa Anita, is another logical contender in this deep field. I suggest playing Wipe the Slate, Hot Rod Charlie, and Spielberg underneath Spielberg in the trifecta and superfecta while adding Rombauer and Parnelli for fourth place.

Depending on your budget, we have three wagering strategies for you to consider:

Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget

$2.50 trifecta: 1 with 4 with 7,8 ($5)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $2.50 trifecta 1 with 4 with 7,8

$2.50 trifecta: 1 with 7,8 with 4 ($5)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $2.50 trifecta 1 with 7,8 with 4

Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget

$4.50 trifecta: 1 with 4 with 7,8 ($9)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $4.50 trifecta 1 with 4 with 7,8

$4.50 trifecta: 1 with 7,8 with 4 ($9)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $4.50 trifecta 1 with 7,8 with 4

$1 superfecta: 1 with 4 with 7,8 with 2,3,7,8 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $1 superfecta 1 with 4 with 7,8 with 2,3,7,8

$1 superfecta: 1 with 7,8 with 4 with 2,3,7,8 ($6)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $1 superfecta 1 with 7,8 with 4 with 2,3,7,8

Wagering Strategy on a $50 Budget

$5 trifecta: 1 with 4 with 7,8 ($10)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $5 trifecta 1 with 4 with 7,8

$5 trifecta: 1 with 7,8 with 4 ($10)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $5 trifecta 1 with 7,8 with 4

$2.50 superfecta: 1 with 4 with 7,8 with 2,3,7,8 ($15)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $2.50 superfecta 1 with 4 with 7,8 with 2,3,7,8

$2.50 superfecta: 1 with 7,8 with 4 with 2,3,7,8 ($15)

What to say at the betting window: Santa Anita, 7th race, $2.50 superfecta 1 with 7,8 with 4 with 2,3,7,8

Good luck, and enjoy the race!

2021 Robert B. Lewis S.
January 30th, 2021

Winning Time: 1:46.26
  • Purse: $100,000
  • Distance: 1 1/16 Miles
  • Age: 3 yo
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Winning Time: 1:46.26
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
1 Medina Spirit
$4.00
$2.80
$2.20
2nd
5 Roman Centurian
$7.60
$3.80
3rd
4 Hot Rod Charlie
$2.60
5th
3 Parnelli
6th
7 Wipe the Slate
Scratches
Payoff
Pick 3
4-3-1
4-3-1
$18
Daily Double
3-1
3-1
$13
Exacta
1-5
1-5
$14
Superfecta
1-5-4-8
1-5-4-8
$10
Trifecta
1-5-4
1-5-4
$18
Race Replay
Play
Payoff
Pick 3
4-3-1
4-3-1
$18
Daily Double
3-1
3-1
$13
Exacta
1-5
1-5
$14
Superfecta
1-5-4-8
1-5-4-8
$10
Trifecta
1-5-4
1-5-4
$18

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!