Hot Triple Crown prospects American Lion and Tiz Chrome are among seven 3-year-olds ready to line up for the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Feb. 6, a key prep for the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).
The 1 1/16-mile Pro-Ride event is one of three graded stakes on the program, joining the the $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies and the $200,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II) for 4-year-olds. The Lewis is the eighth race on the program.
Heading into the Lewis, which was named for the noted horse owner in 2007, both American Lion and the unbeaten Tiz Chrome are consensus top 10 contenders for the 2010 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and are ranked on Steve Haskin's Derby Dozen. Both are sons of the 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow and will be making their first tries around two turns.
As their sire is racing’s only two-time winner of the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), American Lion and Tiz Chrome would seem well-suited for the challenge.
American Lion is making his first start since capturing the seven-furlong Holywood Prevue (gr. III) across town Nov. 21 when he charged home to get the lead inside the final furlong as the odds-on favorite. American Lion lasted gamely under Julien Leparoux to win by a half-length over Get My Fix in his first race against winners.
American Lion, out of the Storm Cat mare Storm Tide, was bred by WinStar Farm and Dr. William Lockridge.
Trained by Eoin Harty, American Lion defeated maidens by 6 3/4 lengths at Keeneland a month earlier. His three races, which also include a runner-up finish in his debut, have come on synthetic tracks.
While he hasn't raced since the Prevue, he has remained in training, turning in a series of strong workouts for his return. Leparoux, the 2009 Eclipse Award-winning jockey, keeps the mount for Harty.
Tiz Chrome, who joined trainer Bob Baffert's stable late last year, won both of his starts in 2009 and makes his graded stakes debut in the Lewis.
The good-looking colt won his six-furlong debut at Churchill Downs Nov. 1 by 3 1/4 lengths for trainer Allen Crupper before he was transferred Baffert by the partnership of the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa. Tiz Chrome performed in eye-catching style in winning Hollywood Park’s Stuka Stakes by four lengths Dec. 19, covering 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14 2/5 as the 3-2 choice.
“He’s a pretty serious horse,” said Baffert, who has compared Tiz Chrome to his 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (gr. I) winner, Silver Charm. “He’s very laid back but when he gets into the starting gate, he becomes a different horse.” Garrett Gomez rides Tiz Chrome.
Baffert is also represented by Zayat Stables' Macias, who switches back to the main track after winning the Eddie Logan on grass Dec. 28. Victor Espinoza, who rode the son of Purge for the first time in the one-mile Logan, rides right back. Macias has shown speed in his past three starts, which will come in handy with his rail post.
Trainer John Sadler also entered a pair in Dave in Dixie and Domonation.
The promising Dave in Dixie, owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash, broke his maiden in his debut at Del Mar Aug. 29 and has not been out since finishing sixth with a late bid in Oak Tree's Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) in his next start Oct. 4.
Domonation ran second to Tiz Chrome in the Stuka and returned Jan. 16 with a third-place finish in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 16.
Undefeated California-bred gelding Caracortado will put his four-race record on the line in the Lewis with Paul Atkinson riding for the fifth time. Trained by breeder Michael Machowsky for Blahut Racing and Lo Hi Racing, the son of Cat Dreams is coming off a 1 3/4-length win in the $100,000 California Breeders’ Championship over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.
“He has been a surprise,” trainer Mike Machowsky said of Caracortado, who began his career winning a $40,000 maiden claiming race at four furlongs at Fairplex Park.
“When you start off running a horse a half-mile, you’re not sure what to expect down the line,” Machowsky continued. “But every time I’ve asked the horse to do something, he’s done it.”
Tango Tango invades from Northern California off an optional claiming victory for Jerry Hollendorfer at Golden Gate Fields Jan. 9.