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Robert Lewis 1924 - 2006


Bob and Beverly Lewis on
Kentucky Derby Day 2005
Date: 02/17/2006

Prominent California owner Bob Lewis, who raced many champions in the past 15 years, passed away Friday in his Newport Beach home at 2am PST. In poor health for several months which caused him to miss both the Breeders' Cup and the Eclipse Awards, he died of heart failure. Denali Stud owner Craig Bandoroff said, "It's a very sad day. It's a bad day for the whole human race. He died peacefully and I think the Lord rewarded him for the kind of person that he was his whole life, for the kindness he had, and he died in his sleep with his family at his side." The Lewises often boarded their horses at Denali.

In partnership with wife Beverly, Bob Lewis entered the ownership game in 1990 after dabbling in partnerships with others for several years. As a child, he attended the opening weekends of both Santa Anita and Del Mar, which set the stage for his lifelong involvement in the sport. The World War II veteran met Beverly at the University of Oregon, and years later chose the Oregon Ducks' green and yellow colors for their racing silks. He owned and operated the Foothill Beverage Company in Pomona, CA since 1956, a company that grew to become California's second largest beer distributor, specializing in Anheuser-Busch products. He also owned a chain of car dealerships in the 1970's. The couple donated $5 million to the Pomona Valley Hospital to build the Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center, which opened in 1993.


Bob Lewis leads Commendable down Victory Lane at Belmont Park.
Soon after they jumped headfirst into the sport, the green and yellow of the Lewises quickly became a familiar sight in winner's circles across the country. After less than a year as full-time owners, they experienced their first stakes win with Ebonair in the 1991 California Cup Juvenile, trained by Bob Baffert. Baffert would go on to train 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm for them as well. In 1998, Silver Charm became the only horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup. The Lewises did much to fuel the bitter rivalry between Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas, splitting their stable between the two supertrainers. Lukas trainee and former claimer Charismatic took the 1999 Derby and Preakness but like Silver Charm, was denied in the Belmont. Charismatic was named 1999 Horse of the Year. The Lewises did win their Belmont the following year with longshot Commendable.

Among their other greats, Serena's Song stands out. When she retired, she was the richest filly or mare in history with almost $3.3 million in earnings and 17 graded stakes wins. 1994 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Timber Country is still the only winner of that event to win a Triple Crown race the following year, in this case the Preakness. Along with Timber Country, their Breeders' Cup wins include 2002 Sprint winner Orientate and 2005 Juvenile Fillies winner Folklore.


In the winner's circle after Orientate won the 2002 Breeders' Cup Sprint.
From their success came many accolades. Bob Lewis was elected to the Jockey Club and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association as a director. The Lewises were awarded the Turf Publicists of America's Big Sport of Turfdom award in 1995, the New York Turf Writers' C.V. Whitney Award in 1997, as well as the Eclipse Award of Merit in 1995.

He leaves his wife Beverly, and children Jeff, Nancy, and Jimmy. Jeff Lewis said, "He went very peacefully. We brought him home last Saturday. He wanted to come home. He did not want to spend his final days in the hospital. He was resting comfortably and peacefully. He just ran out of gas. He just couldn't go on any longer. He had his family around him when he passed away. He had a wonderful life, and we'll miss him tremendously." Referring to Point of Impact winning at Santa Anita on Thursday, Bandoroff added, "Yesterday he won a race and that put a smile on his face. That's how he was to the end. Nothing changed. Really he never seemed as old as he was, but I guess it was his time to go."

Funeral services have been scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center Foundation, 1798 N. Garey Ave., Pomona, CA 91767.

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