Derby Prep Races – Lewis, Davis & Withers Stakes

The annual Run for the Roses is set for Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY – and while that might seem like an awfully long ways away, it doesn’t mean pundits aren’t already busy handicapping the ponies in advance of the most exciting two minutes in sports.

This weekend, there are three important pre-Derby events:

— Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park (Arcadia, CA)

— Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs (Tampa, FLA)

— Grade III Withers Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack (Jamaica, NY)

Most eyes will be on the Robert B. Lewis and a pair of entries from trainer extraordinaire Bob Baffert – Flashback and Den’s Legacy. Both are considered strong runners that should be major players in the Derby field. In 2012, this race was notably won by jockey Mario Gutierrez and I’ll Have Another who – you may recall – won the first two legs of the Triple Crown (looking great at both the Derby and Preakness) before pulling out of the Belmont in dramatic fashion.

Over at the Sam F. Davis – a race that’s part of the new points system being utilized by Churchill Downs to determine the 20-horse field for May 4 – a pair of horses currently atop the points standing will show down. Other Derby preps in the Sam F. Davis include Speak Logistics (who hasn’t run since finishing seventh behind Derby favorite Shanghai Bobby at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), along with the dual Mark Casse-trained entry of Dynamic Sky and Northern Lion.

Finally, there’s the Grade III Withers Stakes at the famed Aqueduct in Jamaica (the New York version, of course.) Named for David Dunham Withers – a famous owner and breeder who gained fame with his colt, King Eric – this race is an important one on the three-year-old circuit with its classic left-handed dirt track.

This year’s Withers features three horses that are definitely worth watching. First is Revolutionary, who wowed onlookers with a solid performance back on December 28 to get into the “one to watch” category for the Derby. The next is Escapefromreality, who many have tagged as the fastest thoroughbred in the field. The third is Siete de Oros, a bit of a sleeper who came onto the scene via a second place finish at the Jerome Stakes back in early January. In that race, Siete de Oros pushed pre-race favorite Vyjack throughout and nearly scored the upset victory. Many figure Siete did a lot of “learning” in that race which should bode well for the Withers.

All in all, this promises to be an exciting, entertaining and informative weekend as the Kentucky Derby draws near. The points are at a premium and with just 20 horses eligible to qualify for this year’s field, you can guarantee that the Lewis, Davis and Withers will be heavily watched as we’re now just four months away from the Running of the Roses.

About Tennessee Leduc

Born in Summersville Kentucky, Tennessee is an impassioned fan of horse racing, women, civilized debauchery, and... mint juleps. He writes, he reads, he listens, but above all he experiences the world he lives in.

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