Saturday’s $1 million dollar Rebel Stakes (G2) is the third of four qualifying points preps at Oaklawn Park for the May 1st Kentucky Derby. The April 10th Arkansas Derby is the final KD prep race at Oaklawn.
The 1 1/16-mile Rebel offers Derby points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 scale as well as a hefty purse distribution.
This year’s Rebel drew a competitive eight-horse field, and is listed as race 11 on a card of 12, with a scheduled Post Time of 6:15.
Here then is a look at the field.
1. CADDO RIVER [ML 9-5] Jockey: Florent Geroux. Trainer: Brad Cox. He will vie for Post-Time favorite status here along with CONCERT TOUR. He makes his return to Oaklawn after a dominant 2021 debut in the Smarty Jones Stakes on January 22nd- which he Won by over 10 lengths. Look for Florent Geroux, who has been aboard this colt for both of his Wins, to send his mount to the front as soon as the starting gate opens, as he breaks from the rail post position, and attempt to wire the field.
2. BIG LAKE [ML 12-1] Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Trainer: Steve Asmussen. He is 2-for-2 in 2021 after going winless in two starts as a juvenile. Should be used as Trifecta or Superfecta filler in the Rebel, but is a longshot Win candidate. He earned a career-best 95 speed figure in his most recent Win and another step forward Saturday would give him a shot at the upset. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who won his 700th race at Oaklawn Park earlier this year, has Won the Rebel four times.
3. HOZIER [ML 12-1] Jockey: Martin Garcia. Trainer: Bob Baffert. He ships into Hot Springs as the under-the-radar Rebel contender from the Baffert barn. He boosted his speed figure by 21 points to an 89 in his last outing, and similar improvement will be necessary to best his barn mate and upset the Rebel Stakes, but stranger things have happened. He’s posted two good workouts at Santa Anita since his Win last out. HOZIER picks up a rider in Martin Garcia who is a good judge of pace and has enjoyed a career renaissance of sorts since shifting his tack to Oaklawn Park.
4. GET HER NUMBER [ML 8-1] Jockey: Javier Castellano. Trainer: Pete Miller. This California-based horse ships to Oaklawn having not raced since September 26th, when he Won the Grade 1, American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita Park. He earned only an 88 speed figure for the Victory, and that will have to jump up by 15-20 points for him to have any shot at Winning the Rebel Stakes off the layoff. In addition, his pace-pressing running style will be tested by faster, fitter horses here.
5. TWILIGHT BLUE [ML 15-1] Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Trainer: Joe Sharp. He began a promising juvenile career last fall, Winning at Churchill Downs in his second career start, finished 2nd to current upper-level Derby contender MANDALOUN in a seven-furlong Allowance-optional claiming race at the same track, and then finishing 3rd in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds. He began his 3-year-old campaign at Oaklawn and finished 4th in a January sprint race but then capably handled a stretch out to 1 1/16 miles on February 11th and took an Allowance race by a half-length off of a stalking trip.
6. KEEPMEINMIND [ML 4-1] Jockey: Davis Cohen. Trainer: Robertino Diodoro. Makes his highly anticipated 3-year-old debut Saturday after trainer Robertino Diodoro decided to bypass the Southwest Stakes after that race was rescheduled due to winter weather. He’s been based at Oaklawn Park this winter and had his training schedule interrupted by Mother Nature, but appears to be back on track with a pair of recent breezes. If CADDO RIVER and CONCERT TOUR hook up in a speed duel early on, it could set things up well for KEEPMEINMIND.
7. CONCERT TOUR [ML 2-1] Jockey: Joel Rosario. Trainer: Bob Baffert. Baffert has Won the Rebel Stakes a record seven times, and sends out this California-based contender looking for number eight. This colt did not make his first career start until January 15th and easily Won a six-furlong Maiden race at Santa Anita Park by 3 ½ lengths. CONCERT TOUR has trained very well at Santa Anita and appears to be ready to stretch out in distance. His pedigree suggests he’ll be able to handle two turns, and his 106 speed figure from his last out, is the fastest in this field.
8. SUPER STOCK [ML 6-1] Jockey: Joe Talamo. Trainer: Steve Asmussen. He will be making his first start since October 25th, when he finished 2nd by a half-length in the 1 1/16-mile Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs. He has been training steadily at Fair Grounds. Overall, this colt is worth a look as a Trifecta or Superfecta filler here, but other off-the-pace types are more enticing as Win candidates.
SUMMARY: This is quite the intriguing field. Cashing anything big here, just isn’t going to happen unless both CADDO RIVER and CONCERT TOUR run out of the money. Both those horses are must-use in multi-race wagers, we won’t get cute and leave them off the late pick 4 and 5.
But in the Rebel Stakes the Daily Racing Blog will try to beat them both with KEEPMEINMIND. If the pace is honest enough, we envision a speed duel between CADDO RIVER and CONCERT TOUR, and that will be the chance for KEEPMEINMIND to mow them both down in the home stretch.
THE PLAY: We will key a Trifecta with the #6 on top of the 1-2-4-7-8.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.