The Daily Racing Blog has decided to take a closer look at the 2nd Division flight of the two races that will comprise the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. We feel this field is deeper than the first flight and the favorite(s) more vulnerable, therefore offering us a better shot at finding a Value play.
GAME WINNER is the prohibitive favorite in the second division of the mile and 1/16 Rebel, which is Race 10 on a card of 11. Both flights will award $750,000 purses and KD qualifying points on a 37.5-15-7.5-3.75 scale to the Top 4 finishers.
Post Time is scheduled for 7:06 p.m. Eastern Time. Here’s a look at the 10-horse field.
1. MARKET KING [30-1] Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: John Velazquez. Broke his Maiden fifth out on February 9th over this course and at the Rebel distance. He has mostly come off the pace so far in his career. In his last outing on February 24th he finished third, beaten a length sprinting in Allowance Optional Claiming company.
2. LAUGHING FOX [10-1] Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Broke his Maiden third time out January 25th at Oaklawn. He settled in fourth before running down the pacesetter by a neck at 1 1/16 miles. His second start at that distance, on February 18th was even more eye-catching. In the Optional Claiming Race, LAUGHING FOX was impeded at the start, settled near the back and still rallied to victory. It’s worth noting that Santana Jr. chose this guy over the rest of the Asmussen barn.
3. PARSIMONY [30-1] Trainer: Doug O’Neill. Jockey: Mario Gutierrez. He faces a tough challenge here, but did show signs of improvement in his last two outings. He tried the turf on February 16th, dueled for the lead in a 1 1/8-mile race, and was passed by a late runner.
4. JERSEY AGENDA [12-1] Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. He stretched out to a mile on January 26th in Allowance Optional Claiming company at Oaklawn, went to the lead while dueling with JACK VAN BERG, was passed near the quarter pole and fought back for a 2 ¾-length Victory. His one bad effort came here in the February 18th Southwest Stakes, when he again took the lead but was steadied in the first turn and faded to eighth.
5. GAME WINNER [6-5] Trainer: Bob Baffert. Jockey: Joel Rosario. The undefeated juvenile champion is clearly the one to beat. He has been away since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 2nd, but he tuned up with a quick five-furlong work last Sunday at Los Alamitos. He’ll be a threat from a comfortable spot off the pace.
6. OMAHA BEACH [6-1] Trainer: Richard Mandella. Jockey: Mike Smith. Has never missed the board and showed potential in his first three starts on turf. He broke his Maiden February 2nd, Winning by nine lengths over the main track at Santa Anita. With an off-the-pace style of running, OMAHA BEACH could find himself close to GAME WINNER early in the going. Mike Smith picked up the mount while Flavien Prat, who has been aboard every start, took the assignment on GUNMETAL GRAY.
7. OUR BRAINTRUST [8-1] Trainer: Mark Casse. Jockey: David Cohen. Another entry who likes to sit off the pace. The Rebel will be his second start with Casse training, after being privately purchased by Gary Barber. This Maryland-Bred Won his first two starts, and has never been out of the money. He finished second in The Withers Stakes at Belmont on February 2nd, while going two turns for the first time.
8. GUNMETAL GRAY [4-1] Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer. Jockey: Flavien Prat. He rallied to Win the Sham (G3) on January 5th and then a closing second on the slop in the February 2nd Robert B. Lewis (G3), but he faces a stiffer test here.
9. KAZIRANGA [30-1] Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Richard Eramia. In his two on-the-board finishes at Remington Park, he got involved early. In Remington’s Springboard Mile on December 16th he settled far back and finished eighth. Last time out he was a non-factor, finishing 5th by 12 lengths to LAUGHING FOX.
10. CAPTAIN VON TRAPP [15-1] Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Ramon Vasquez. Broke his Maiden on Feruary 8th at Oaklawn going six furlongs. He then stretched out to a mile on March 2nd and showed a new dimension by sitting off the pace, dueling for the Win. He takes a big step up here and is wheeling back very quickly.
Summary: GAME WINNER looms large here, and Baffert is known to have his big horses ready off the layoff. If this colt is anywhere close to his best, he looks to make a big season debut. But with a Morning Line of 4-5, DRB sees no Value playing him to Win.
So we will try to beat #5 GAME WINNER with both the #2 LAUGHING FOX and the #7 OUR BRAINTRUST. So the play will be; a Trifecta Key using the #2 & #7 on top of the #4-5-6-8. An Exacta Box with #2-6-7, and Win bets on those Exacta horses. If the Favorite beats us so be it. Best of luck no matter how you play it.