Michael V. Lombardi’s Lombo set sail for the lead right from the break and never looked back en route to a two-length score in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GII) at Santa Anita. In doing so, the Mike Pender-trained son of Graydar earned 10 points toward making the Kentucky Derby (GI) and punched a ticket to his next Derby prep in either the March 10 San Felipe Stakes (GII) and/or the April 7 Santa Anita Derby (GI).
“Santa Anita’s home,” Pender said, “we’re going to do what’s in this horse’s best interest, run him out of his stall for Mr. Stronach and the Santa Anita Fans is something I always plan on first and foremost.”
Under jockey Flavien Prat, Lombo led the way closest to the rail through splits of :23.40, :47.26 and 1:12.20 for the first three-quarters of a mile with Dark Vader, Inscom and Shivermetimbers all lined up next to him staggered within a length of the front across the track. The winner was full of run, though, and as the chasing pack began to tire, Lombo was shifted into full gear. He opened up a clear lead by the time he passed a mile in 1:38.34 and successfully held the charging Ayacara safe. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile fast main track test was 1:45.41.
At odds of nearly 9-1, Lombo paid $19.40, $10.40 and $7.20. Ayacara returned $6 and $4.40 to cap off the $45.60 exacta. Dark Vader held on for third at the wire, another 2 ¼ lengths behind the runner-up, and paid $13.60 at more than 36-1. The trifecta was good for $266.60.
Regulate, Peace, Pepe Tono, the 2-1 favored Shivermetimbers, Blame the Rider and Inscom completed the order of finish.
“He ran a big race,” Prat said. “They put a little pressure on him down the backside, but he was nice and relaxed. I worked him last week and he’s got a lot of speed and was concerned he might want to go, but he was relaxed. That was my main concern, but he relaxed and then he went on.”
Lombo was bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks Farm and passed through the sales ring three times in his young life, first for $110,000 as a Keeneland November weanling, then as a $40,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling and finally as a Ocala Beeders’ Sales juvenile in training 11 months ago, where his trainer bid to $75,000 to buy him. Overall he’s won two of four starts and has earned $129,225.