Lombo and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Saturday, February 3, 2018 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.© BENOIT PHOTO

Michael Lombardi’s Lombo took the lead at the start of Saturday’s G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes and never relinquished it, going on to cross the wire about two lengths in front in his first start in graded stakes company. Off at 8-1, the 3-year-old son of Graydar earned 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with the win at Santa Anita. Ridden by Flavien Prat for Michael Pender, Lombo covered 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:45.41, defeating Ayacara, Dark Vader, Regulate and Peace.

“He ran a big race,” said Prat, who picked up the mount when Kent Desromeaux opted to ride eventual runner-up Ayacara. “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. I was concerned he might want to go, but he was relaxed. That was my main concern, but he releaxed and then he went on.”

Lombo was very quick out of the starting gate, shooting out to take a two-length lead in the first turn. Prat tried to ease him back after a first quarter in :23.40, allowing a four-way duel to take place down the backstretch with Dark Vader, Inscom and Shivermetimbers. They marked a half-mile in :47.26, and Lombo started to pull away again entering the far turn to complete six furlongs in 1:12.20.

Turning for home Lombo had a three-length advantage, and he continued to cruise down the stretch unchallenged. Ayacara made a big run up the rail to gain second while never threatening the winner, and Dark Vader had to settle for third. Regulate finished forth, and Peace was fifth.

“He’s definitely a high octane horse,” said Pender. “Apparently, Graydar had some of the same characteristics and Unbridled’s Song (Graydar’s sire) as well.  He’s just a big kid and has a little (Attention Deficit Disorder) to him, but he’s starting to figure it out. When he does…I think he’ll be really dangerous.”

Bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks Farm, Lombo was a $110,000 Keeneland November weanling purchase, then brought $40,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale, and finally $75,000 at the OBS March 2-year-old in training sale. It took the colt three starts to break his maiden, but he graduated at first try in graded company to improve his record to two wins from four starts for earnings of nearly $130,000.

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