02/02/2017 3:26PM

Royal Mo has big shot in small field for Robert B. Lewis

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The understudy among the 3-year-olds trained by John Shirreffs gets top billing on Saturday, as Royal Mo seeks to join stablemate Gormley as a viable Kentucky Derby candidate when he takes on four rivals in the Grade 3, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita.

Gormley, American Anthem, and Mastery are likely the top 3-year-old males with two-turn experience on this circuit at present, but all three are sitting out this race to await starts in March. As a result, the Lewis came up fairly light, with just one multiple winner – Term of Art – and one maiden, Irap. Both Term of Art and Irap are trained by Doug O’Neill, who also has Dangerfield, giving him 60 percent of the field.

Royal Mo and the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Sheer Flattery, both coming off maiden wins, likely will take the bulk of the action in the Lewis. Royal Mo, who starts from the rail, could be the controlling speed in the race, though Sheer Flattery figures to be forwardly placed.

Royal Mo is one of the biggest horses of his brethren, likely standing just a shade less than 17 hands. But for his size, Royal Mo is quite graceful. One hurdle, though, will be the start. He has shown good speed in two of his three races, but he broke very poorly in his second start.

As with Gormley, Royal Mo is owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and ridden by Victor Espinoza.

The Lewis, at 1 1/16 miles, offers 17 points – including 10 to the winner – under the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.

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Robert B. Lewis, Race 2

KEY CONTENDERS

Royal Mo, by Uncle Mo

Last 3 Beyers: 73-73-67

◗ His speed figures have been only moderate, but it has been two months since his last start, and owing to his size, he figures to get better with age and experience.

◗ Shirreffs initially had wanted to run Royal Mo in an allowance race, “but nothing materialized until it was too close to this race,” he said.

Sheer Flattery, by Flatter

Last 3 Beyers: 83-72-83

◗ He finally graduated from the maiden ranks in his fourth start, but that was his first try around two turns and followed some good efforts sprinting against the likes of Mastery and American Anthem. That win, though, was on a sloppy, sealed track. It should be drier Saturday.

“We hope he can come back and run well on a fast track,” said Hollendorfer, who also is a co-owner of Sheer Flattery. “He looks like he can be a pretty good racehorse.”

Term of Art, by Tiznow

Last 3 Beyers: 64-74-72

◗ He won the off-the-turf DeMille Stakes at Del Mar before finishing a distant fifth behind Gormley and American Anthem in the Sham on Jan. 7.

Irap, by Tiznow

Last 3 Beyers: 75-80-59

◗ Though still a maiden, he was second to Mastery in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 10 before finishing fourth against Sheer Flattery on Dec. 31.

Dangerfield, by Into Mischief

Last 3 Beyers: 71-71-71

◗ He was a distant third in his last two starts in the Delta Jackpot and Los Alamitos Futurity.