Robert B Lewis
Triple Crown season has been boring so far. Sham & Smarty Jones stakes both won by odds-on favorites. This Robert B Lewis stakes (named after the owner of one of my favorite horses...Silver Charm) looks competitive.
#1 Medina Spirit - Should secure the early lead from the rail and will be stalked by #7 Wipe the Slate and #8 Spielberg who is also trained by Baffert. Pace should be honest but not fast. Horse is lightly raced and eligible to improve in 3rd lifetime start. Closed gamely on Life is Good (Future wager #2 top choice) to lose by less than a length and figures to get bet down here below 2-1 so will look for value elsewhere.
#2 Rombauer - This horse is a deep closer who may not be able to win here. Raced against tough G1 competition as a 2yo and closed strongly in BC Juvenile but was well beaten by #4 Hot Rod Charlie. Work-outs for return off layoff look light (notice the N2 in Fitness). Mike Smith climbs back aboard and horse is value at the morning line of 8-1.
#3 Parnelli - Was embarrassed in Sham Stakes by #1 Medina Spirit and is heavily raced & unlikely to improve here.
#4 Hot Rod Charlie - Was high on this horse in Future Wager #2. Horse is getting very little respect since he was 94-1 in BC Juvenile but horse ran very impressively and had the lead late in that race losing to the very good Essential Quality. Toss the two turf efforts and horse looks good routing on dirt. Horse had :59.2 workout on 1/9 so think he will be fit for the return. O'neill is flat bet profitable last year with Rosario.
#5 Roman Centurion - Exits maiden victory with Lasix ON and won that race in slow time (87 Energy). Deep closer, horse was badly beaten in debut by Life is Good and #7 Wipe the Slate. Could maybe hit 3rd if pace is fast.
#6 Waspirant - Has been well beaten by many horses in this race and looks too slow.
#7 Wipe the Slate - Rebounded from bad loss to Life is Good when equipped with Blinkers. O'neill uses his primary jockey Gutierrez but they only win 14% together. Workouts look strong coming in to 3rd lifetime start but 4-1 is too short for a horse taking a massive step up in class.
#8 Spielberg - $1M purchase took 4 starts to break maiden for Baffert which can't be by design. Horse badly beaten by Rombauer in American Pharoah while favored. Massively improved in Los Alamitos with 101 BRIS speed figure (best in field) but horse was all-in to win that race. Horse is heavily raced, unlikely to improve and could bounce off his win. No thanks at 7/2.
Bottom line - There are many different ways to go in this race which is why race gets betting score of *4*. #3, #5 and #6 are tosses to win and only #5 could be looked at on bottom of trifectas. #1 makes sense as the favorite off his last but is an underlay. He should get lead easily but be stalked by several. If pace is hot, advantage to #2. Otherwise #1 or #4 should win. I'll take a stand against #7 or #8. Top pick #4 with A+ grade.