Current Kentucky Derby favourite Dortmund climbed off the canvas for a narrow victory in Saturday’s Robert Lewis Stakes G3 (1700m) at Santa Anita.

The Big Brown colt returned from a quick winter break to defeat Firing Line after the runner-up raced to a clear lead in the straight. “He’s such a fighter, he just kicked in,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. “You really don’t know about these horses until you put them in that scenario.

“It was a great race. Going in, I thought he was the best horse, then that other one went by him and I thought maybe he’s not as good as I thought. That’s twice now that he just fought and came on to win like that against really nice horses.”

Dortmund (3c Big Brown – Our Josephina by Tale of the Cat) is a massive individual and was unbeaten as a two year-old following a Santa Anita maiden, Churchill Downs allowance and G1 Los Alamitos Futurity back in California in December.

Baffert and owner Kaleem Shah have a couple of options for lead-ups into the Kentucky Derby. The G2 San Felipe Stakes (1700m) on March 7 or the G1 Santa Anita Derby (1800m) on April 4 are both in the mix.

“He’s a really good horse. He’s just a big baby; he’s still learning,” jockey Martin Garcia said. “I broke sharp and got a good position. Firing Line went by me but in the end, when I asked him, my horse started coming back. Firing Line gave us pressure but my horse just took off again.”

Dortmund is a son of Vinery Stud’s 2008 Kentucky Derby champion Big Brown from LR Ohio Valley Hcp winner Our Josephina. He brought $140,000 at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton 2YO Midlantic Sale.