02/07/2015 7:39PM

Dortmund refuses to lose in Robert Lewis

Benoit Photo
Dortmund wins the Robert Lewis Stakes by a head Saturday at Santa Anita Park.

ARCADIA, Calif. – In a thrilling rematch of their Los Alamitos Futurity duel in December, Dortmund again outbattled Firing Line, again prevailing by the length of his giant head, this time in the Grade 3, $150,000 Robert Lewis Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

 There were five 3-year-olds in the race, but for the final three furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile race, it was a match race between two of the West Coast’s leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby.

 Firing Line, racing on the outside under Gary Stevens, put as much as a length between he and Dortmund with a furlong to go, but Dortmund bravely re-rallied along the rail under Martin Garcia to win and remain unbeaten in four starts.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

 Those two were an incredible 21 1/2 – yes, 21 1/2 -- lengths in front of third-place Rock Shandy. Hero Ten All, and Tizcano, the early pacesetter, completed the field, in that order. Sebastian’s Heart was scratched early Saturday morning.

 Dortmund ($3.20), the favorite, completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.20. It began to drizzle lightly before the race, but not enough to have impacted the surface in that short amount of time.

 Dortmund received 10 points for the win under the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field for the May 2 Kentucky Derby, just as he did in the Los Alamitos Futurity. Firing Line earned four points, as he did in their last meeting, too.

 Garcia said Dortmund “moved slowly” when he first asked him to go after Firing Line, and he was concerned the cause was lost. “It looked like he was going to go by me easy,” Garcia said. But when Dortmund failed to lose contact and then re-engaged, Garcia thought he had a chance.

 “When I asked him at the end he kept coming back,” Garcia said.

Stevens blamed himself for Firing Line losing, saying he moved too soon.

 “I never thought I’d move too early moving at the eighth pole in a dirt race,” Stevens said. “But when he hit the front, he started idling.”

 Stevens said he thought he had Dortmund at the three-furlong pole, saying Garcia “asked his horse, and I hadn’t asked my horse yet.”

 Simon Callaghan, the trainer of Firing Line, said “he’s a very good horse who got beat by a very good horse.”

 Bob Baffert, who trains Dortmund for Kaleem Shah, pointed out that Dortmund in both the Lewis and Los Alamitos Futurity surged late to win.

 “That’s twice now he’s had to fight to come back and win,” Baffert said. “He’s got the talent, and he showed that grit.”

 Baffert said Dortmund, a son of Big Brown who towers over his rivals, is going through a growth spurt, and because of that, his immediate inclination was to skip next month’s San Felipe Stakes and instead await the Santa Anita Derby on April 4.



Jason Kassa More than 1 year ago
Most of the time when a horse "comes back" up the inside, it's a product of the leader slightly flattening, rather than an emotional saga. Both horses showed some strengths and weaknesses today. Bayern is obviously a horse with great potential, and he continued to show physical development in the flesh today, as well as show the added dimension of gate speed - indicating he can be near the lead at a classic distance.
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Dortmund, not Bayern. (Mr. Shah would be upset you confused his favorite soccer clubs!) But anyway, yes, it was nice to see increased early speed from Dortmund. I was initially disappointed that he didn't win more easily, but he did show a lot of grit and determination yesterday, and I believe he's capable of stretching out to a mile and a quarter. But he does need to take a step up in his next race. Should be a continued good rivalry with Firing Line.
Jason Kassa More than 1 year ago
Thanks. Yes "Dortmund" (There has to be a word for thinking one thing and typing the other). (freudian confusion? , I don't know...) Yea, it was only 8.5 furlongs and he faced a classy rival who was full of run on the turn and moved first. With Dortmund, he's got that giant frame and we mainly want to see fundamental improvements and soundness. The margin of victory will come with added distance.
tommy More than 1 year ago
The east coast have amazing horses this year for the derby which are up start, frosted, el kabier, carpe diem, conquest typhoon, BAyerd, nasa, blue grass singer!!! The east will be the west in all triple crown races!!!!!!
tommy More than 1 year ago
This was a good race but they have to win impressively at 1 1/18 if they want my bet at the kentucky derby!!!
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
you are an idiot--it was impressive--for some reason-you correlate margin of victory with impressiveness. You should learn how to watch a race before posting.
Guy John More than 1 year ago
Dortmund looks like big brown but rides like silver charm. Silver charm was within a 1/2 length win/lose up until the derby. This is a great test for Dortmund showing he can fight. Now, Dortmund will lose the SA derby by a length then win the derby.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Dortmund has no shot at the derby!!
Tom Gaeta More than 1 year ago
Firing line was hand ridden to the wire and now for the second time in a row, Dortmund came under the hard whip all the way down the stretch. Dangerous tactics for a developing horse, I hope they didn't ruin him today.
Mike More than 1 year ago
"Hand ridden" you need better glasses. He was not hand ridden, he was whipped quite a few times. Dortmund takes longer to get into stride, Firing Line is more of a push button horse with tactical speed which is why he took the lead for a bit. Dortmund will only improve.
Larry Kaufman More than 1 year ago
mike is a loser
tommy More than 1 year ago
Firing line lost because the jockey made him go 6 wide and still he almost won!!! If firing line is going to contend he needs a jockey upgrade to Ortiz, castellano, Espinoza, mike smith, paco lopez, Calvin borel, Joel Rosario, Russell baze
Mike More than 1 year ago
Beast. It's scarey to think of how much this horse can continue to improve, his birthday was today coincidentally, he just turned 3. Baffert said he is still 3-4 months away from his best. Just scarey.
Larry Kaufman More than 1 year ago
you know nothing