Brian’s Derby preps: The Rebel

The Rebel – Grade II – $300,000 – Oaklawn Park – 1 1/16 Miles, by Brian Nadeau

Old Fashioned looks to continue his march to Churchill Downs and there doesn’t appear to be too much standing in his way. He’s imposing indeed, but maybe there’s someone out there that could pull the shocker? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Old Fashioned: The pro-tem Derby favorite should improve off his win in the Southwest Stakes here on February 16, where he stalked Silver City before drawing off late. Dominguez got into him pretty good that day and considering how quick Silver City ran early (a half-mile in :45 and change), it was a bit surprising this colt had to work so hard to get by. Still, that race was just a jumping off point on the road to the Derby and he should be much sharper today. The deserving favorite looks tough to deny at a short number.

Hamazing Destiny: Two years ago a colt broke his maiden sprinting in a gallop, was then purchased privately and turned over to a high profile trainer, and then romped in the Rebel by open lengths. I’m not comparing this guy to Curlin, but dang, on paper he’s a carbon copy after one race. Even throwing some water on your face and getting back to reality, you have to be intrigued by this son of Salt Lake, who looked like he could be any kind when he won his debut at 6 furlongs over the track by 10 ½ lengths. Sure, the water gets deeper here, but aside from the guy on the rail there aren’t any world-beaters signed on. If you are a believer, Old Fashioned’s presence will ensure that you’ll get a tremendous overlay. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely intrigued.

Poltergeist: Came into the Southwest off a huge local score but just could not back it up, checking in a distant seventh behind Old Fashioned while without an apparent excuse. The good news is he gets a little more ground to work with and a longer stretch, but it’s hard to envision him engineering a dramatic turnaround.

Pointing Home: The eighth time was the charm for this colt, who broke his maiden here on February 22, but he gets thrown to the wolves today and looks to be completely overmatched.

Wise Kid: Was it the blinkers or the slop that moved him up last time? Whatever it was, this beautifully bred son of Lemon Drop Kid exploded over the course and distance in an effort that stamps him as a real comer. The blinkers put some tactical speed into him and that could have him in a nice spot turning for home. And heck, as good as Old Fashioned is, it’s not like he’s been breaking any stopwatches, so this colt has every right to be dangerous in the lane.

His Greatness: Improved when he made his local debut on February 14, winning an optional-claimer, which also marked his first start on dirt. The problem is that he’ll have to improve several lengths off that race to contend. Not likely.

Captain Cherokee: Fair Grounds invader has looked good winning his last two but meets much tougher here. Nice stalk and pounce style should have him in a nice spot stalking the leaders, but a minor award seems his ceiling.

Silver City: How do you want to view his Southwest? On the one hand, considering it was his first start at two turns and that he went a bit crazy early, he held well against the big guy to be second. On the other hand, that was at one mile, which has a shortened finished line, and he goes farther today, meets tougher, has a longer stretch run to deal with and could have more company up front early. The two turns might have zapped him of some of his brilliance, so it’s worth trying to get him out of the exotics altogether.

Win Willy: Not sure where that last win came from, but it sure was nice. The problem is that 6 furlongs in a six-horse field is a bit different than facing the Derby favorite at 1 1/16 miles. Midpack finish forthcoming.

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