Brian’s Derby Preps: The Rebel

Oaklawn Park: The Grade II, $300,000 Rebel at 1 1/16 miles

#1 Archarcharch (ML unavailable): Upset winner of a rough renewal of the local GIII Southwest is back for more today and drew extremely well in this deep and competitive spot. Love his stalk-and-pounce style and he’s the lone entrant in here with a graded stakes win at two turns, so you know this is right up his alley. Eligible to be ignored again at the windows and there’s no reason he can’t be a major player again at a price; looms a logical threat for all the slots.

#2 Alternation: Exits an impressive win over older rivals to run his local mark to 2-for-2 and he’s got the look of an interesting newcomer to the party in here. Since being stretched to two turns, he’s perfect in three starts and has shown a devastating turn of foot in the lane, so the more speed up front the better. Enters his first try in a graded stakes with bullets in tow and gets the acid test in here; you’ll get one heck of a price if you’re a believer.

#3 Dreaminofthewin: Chased a few of these home in his last two and seems to be lacking some stretch stamina when the real running begins, so it’s tough to see him bridging the gap in this salty GII. He does have what appears to be a solid 3-furlong burst if timed correctly, so maybe with a bit more patient handling there’s a chance he can surprise but it seems to be asking a lot; midpack finish might be his ceiling.

#4 Picko’s Pride: Starts with just a 5F maiden win to his credit, though he did close from the clouds to be a respectable fourth in the Southwest. Broke dead last from the 11-hole last time and made up over 15 lengths with some serious trouble at the ¼-pole too, so who knows how close he could have been at the line? Still wonder about his quality, but he’s yet another of the many contenders in here; contention runs deep.

#5 J P’s Gusto: Southwest favorite ran pretty good, with a bunch of trouble, too, and he should be that much tighter today off the shelf. Never really sold on his quality, especially going this far, but he did show up with a big run in his local debut, so maybe he does in fact fit with these. The problem is that he’ll be bet hard at the windows again today, and the reality is that he’s no faster than about half a dozen of his rivals; making him beat me once again.

#6 The Factor: Speed freak will try to stretch his brilliance a route of ground and two turns today, and he caught a field lacking any early pace, so this seems to be a great spot to give it a try. Simply speed-popped the field in the GII San Vicente last time, but it’s worth noting that there was an intensely inside speed biased track at Santa Anita that day, and if today’s rival Sway Away had run straight through, he might have gotten there, so there are some questions attached to the favorite. Of course, to be fair, third-place finisher Premier Pegasus returned last week to win the GII San Rafael in what was arguably the best performance by a 3yo this year, so needless to say, the San Vicente is stacking up pretty strong. Baffert going great guns and he brings a colt that will make them all come and catch him in the lane, but the gut tells me that he hits a wall in that last furlong; trying to beat on top at underlaid odds.

#7 Caleb’s Posse: Got the better of ‘Dreamin in the local Smarty Jones two-back, but then finished midpack after a troubled trip in the Southwest. As impressive as the Smarty Jones win was, it did come over a “good” track, so you wonder if he can reproduce as big a run over fast ground; not expecting him to factor in the outcome today.

#8 Saratoga Red: Gutted out a MSW win in his debut over a sloppy track going a mile here last month and now steps way up as D. Wayne tries to see what he’s got. Son of long-striding Eddington appears to be talented, but this is way too much too soon; will have to be an absolute monster to threaten against this kind.

#9 Sway Away: Aforementioned runner was visually impressive chasing The Factor home at SA while running green and awkwardly through the lane, in what was his first start since finishing a close second in the GII Best Pal at Del Mar last August. Spotted a ton of experience that day, not to mention that it was his first start on conventional dirt, so obviously there’s a boatload of talent in this corner. The scary part is that he’s bred to only get better with added ground, so the fact that he was such a tiger at one turn speaks volumes of his talent. Gets a chance to stretch his legs today and should be rolling through the lane, though there could be an adjustment period in this initial two-turn start; exciting prospect will be tough to deny.

#10 Elite Alex: Much hyped runner took the overland route in the Southwest and came up a bit short in the stretch, though he was hardly disgraced in his first attempt at graded stakes foes. Didn’t draw too well today, which is a concern because he’s been showing a tendency to break slow, and that would have him wide again. That last 6F move 3/6 was eerily reminiscent of what trainer Ritchey put into this guy’s sire Afleet Alex prior to the Arkansas Derby, and we remember how that turned out. Assuming he kicks those bad gate habits, he’s got the tactical speed to be just off the pace and get first run on the closers, which would put him in an enviable position on the far turn; gets the call to turn the tables and finally live up to the press clippings.

#11 Glint: Tapeta sprint stakes winner as a juvenile was a decent third in the 6F Mountain Valley over the local strip to kick off his 3yo campaign. Stretches out for the first time today, though his New York-bred sire did take Barbaro to the limit going 9F’s in the Florida Derby, so you would think that this trip is within his score. The talent appears to be there, but this is asking a bunch from a colt that has yet to run in a graded stakes or past 6 ½ furlongs; watching today.

#12f Bluegrass Jam: Settled for minor awards in allowance company in both starts this year and just doesn’t appear fast enough to threaten this kind. Drew horribly and runs the risk of being extremely wide entering the first turn, so he’s an easy toss; longshot.

#13f: J W Blue: Along with Alteration, he’s the lone runner with a win at today’s distance and the fact that it came over the track in his last start gives him a few bonus points, too. Got murdered at the draw, but at least he’ll simply be looking to drop back and make a late run, so doubt he’s going to be very wide into the first turn. The issue is pace, or lack thereof, because if he’s going to drop 10+ lengths off the pace, it’s doubtful he’s going to be able to reel them in; intriguing colt bears watching for down the road.


#10 Elite Alex

#9 Sway Away

#6 The Factor

7 thoughts on “Brian’s Derby Preps: The Rebel

  1. Good luck August! I’ll be the first to admit The Factor has a HUGE chance today, as there’s very little speed to oppose him. If he doesn’t win today he’ll probably never win a two-turn race.

  2. Thanks everyone, I did see that Elite Alex scratched. That moves me up to Sway Away, though sadly it appears the entire racing public is onto him after the San Vicente, so you’ll get a vastly underlaid price today.

  3. Well:

    The Factor proved he is the real deal with his romp, and especially if he romps in the Arkansas Derby could establish himself as second choice to Uncle Mo in the Derby.

    On another front, I re-read your blog from last year on the inner track ( as I’ve had an argument on the Del Mar message board (at: that Santa Anita should have installed the exact same surface used on the inner at Aqueduct given all the problems SA has with rain (and sometimes FAR heavier rain than New York ever gets) in a typical winter. Perhaps you could explain on that forum to some of the people in So. Cal what the inner track surface really is.

  4. Walt,

    Sorry for the delay in responding; I’ve been on the road the AQU inner track was installed to deal with freezing and thawing, not excessive moisture, so I don’t know whether it would help SA or not, but I’d be happy to answer any questions people have (if I can). I skimmed the forum quickly but didn’t see anything in particular – let me know if you think that there’s something that I can clear up.

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