Going into the Feb.13 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita much of the focus centered on the speed of the race. Two sons of Tiznow-Tiz Chrome and American Lion-seemed the logical selections on paper but as often happens on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface, two speed types don’t do each other any favors.
Good riders know that leaving a quality horse loose on an uncontested lead over a traditional dirt surface more often than not leads to certain defeat. The handicapping laws that govern Pro-Ride however are very different. Lost lengths can be gathered in quickly in the later stages with embattled leaders often affording little or no resistance.
To American Lion’s credit, he did put away Tiz Chrome then dug in as best he could when confronted with eventual winner Caracortado. The later simply had far too much momentum to stave off, with American Lion giving up the place only in the final strides to the stretch-running Dave in Dixie.
For the San Felipe, trainer Eoin Harty has equipped American Lion with blinkers and in fact the colt worked beautifully in the new equipment working a sprightly 5 furlongs in1:00 flat. Once again there appears a dangerous speed type in the form of the talented Candy Ride colt Sidney’s Candy. This time American Lion must refrain from engaging the leader. He must cruise along in his own comfort zone and not worry about what the leader is doing. Jockey Julien Leparoux is a master at doing just that. The fact he has chosen to fly in from Gulfstream for the mount suggests the young Frenchman still believes the son of Tiznow can realize the enormous potential he showed when breaking his maiden last fall at Keeneland.