Brian’s Derby Preps 2015: The Rebel Stakes

Oaklawn Park: The Grade II, $750,000 Rebel at 1 1/16 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points 50-20-10-5)

#1 The Truth or Else (4-1): Tricky read woke up in a big way when he added Lasix and was second in the local prep, the GIII Southwest last month, and certainly seems as if he’s turned the corner after middling in a few graded stakes last year. McPeek charge was the victim of a very wide trip last time, too, while race winner Far Right scooted up the rail, so the ground loss certainly cost him the win, and it’s nice to see that he drew perfectly today. On the face of it, this son of sprinter Yes It’s True is a real up-and-comer, and maybe Lasix really did do the trick, but at false odds off such a huge return—in the slop, too—you wonder if he regresses, as opposed to moves forward, while meeting a real tiger as well; making him prove it.

Madefromlucky and John Velazquez at Gulfstream Park. Photo by Lauren King.

Madefromlucky and John Velazquez at Gulfstream Park. Photo by Lauren King.

#2 Madefromlucky (6-1): A high-priced graded stakes race for 3-year-olds just wouldn’t be the same without a flashy Pletcher invader, so in comes this Lookin at Lucky colt from Gulfstream Park, where he made his first start for a loaded barn and looked good winning a two-turn optional claimer last month. Tactical sort drew well and has the speed to keep the favorite in his sights early, so he should trip out beautifully in a race where there’s really no pace at all, which means he’ll also be getting a jump on ‘Truth and the other closers. He certainly gets the proverbial acid test today, but aside from the big gun, who in here is he really supposed to be afraid of? Pletcher isn’t the best because he throws him to the wolves in the wrong spot, and it appears he found a nice foray into the graded stakes ranks for a horse that we haven’t seen the best of yet; logical exacta partner for the chalk.

#3 Tizwonderfulcreek (20-1): Local longshot enters this off a meek fourth in an optional claimer at today’s distance last month and is simply outgunned in a spot like this. Son of Tiz Wonderful goes for a Martin barn that is a woeful 1-for-59 at the meet, and considering that this colt’s lone career win came on the turf at Remington Park in August, it’s pretty clear win number two isn’t coming today; get home safely.

American Pharoah and Victor Espinoza in the FrontRunner at Santa Anita Park.  Benoit photo

American Pharoah and Victor Espinoza in the FrontRunner at Santa Anita Park. Benoit photo

#4 American Pharoah (1-2): Zayat homebred and reigning 2-year-old champion makes his much anticipated 3-year-old debut after being forced to miss last year’s BC Juvenile with a minor leg injury and looms an imposing favorite for Baffert, who has won countless stakes here over the years with California invaders. Son of Pioneerof the Nile was dominant in winning a pair of Grade I races last year, and his win in Santa Anita’s Norfolk at this trip was a thing of beauty, as he toyed with graded stakes winner Calculator and subsequent Juvenile winner Texas Red in a real tour de force. Those looking to beat him will say this is hardly the main goal, and he’s coming off an injury, and his lone dirt run was over a speed favoring track where he set a comfortable pace, and all that may well be the case, but this crew he meets today is as weak as it comes for a race of this stature, not to mention that he looks loose on the lead, so, unless he’s not the same horse due to the injury, anything less than a drubbing would be a real surprise; looks long gone.

#5 Bold Conquest (8-1): Overhyped Asmussen runner constantly gets talked about in races like this, but when you pick up the paper the following morning, all you see is another modest run at underlaid odds, so push is certainly starting to come to shove if he expects to be a leading 3-year-old. Well-bred son of Curlin closed from ninth to be fourth in the Southwest in his seasonal debut, and, like ‘Truth, he took the overland route, so he likely would have been closer if he hadn’t lost so much ground. The rub is that he’s a closer in a race where not only is there no pace, but the one freewheeling on the lead is going to be a champion who will be about 1-5, so that’s not exactly a recipe for success, all for a colt who has never really run all that fast to begin with. Fans of this barn will get their guy at a price, but unless he improves open lengths, it’s tough to think that he does anything but run underneath, again; moderate exotic appeal.

#6 Paid Admission (15-1): Stretch-running son of Candy Ride was a distant second to Hillbilly Royalty in an optional claimer here in February, and while that was a solid run on paper, it’s worth noting the winner that day was just fifth in the Southwest after sitting a dream trip, so take that effort with a grain of salt. Of course, we’ve gone out of our way to tell you that there’s not much here aside from the chalk, and these 3-year-olds have been known to jump up and improve overnight, so at a price, he’s hardly without hope. Richard hasn’t hit at his normal win percentage, but he does win a quarter of the time, which means that he puts them in the right spots, so if you’re looking for a price, then you could do worse; not impossible for a piece.

#7 Sakima (20-1): Lightly raced runner is spotting a lot of experience and talent to these, as he’s actually never crossed the finish line first in any of his three races. Curlin colt goes for a Moquett barn that has enjoyed a banner meet and he calls Far Right a stablemate, but this is a giant step up for a runner who was just a slow fourth in a weak N2L here last month. Stalker is eligible to sit a nice trip just off the speed but you have to think that he retreats steadily when the real running begins; easy toss.


#6 American Pharoah

#2 Madefromlucky

#5 Bold Conquest


2 thoughts on “Brian’s Derby Preps 2015: The Rebel Stakes

  1. So I see you’re not impressed with Bold Conquest. He’s in my Charity League Stable, so hoping like crazy he moves forward off his last start over this same strip. I think (hope) he’s the more talented 3YO in Asmussen’s barn. Of course there’s American Pharoah, who will more than likely win by lengths. Baffort owns Oaklawn on days like this, and it would be a big upset for him to stumble. But he hasn’t raced in five months, and they are thinking May, not March. I’ll play that exacta, and throw in The Truth Or Else under those two in the tri.


  2. Thanks as always BS. The only thing I’ll say about thinking May is that they are have ZERO points, so they can’t really afford to ease into the fray and say “We’ll get them in the next one.” American Pharoah has to be somewhat cranked today, plus I have a feeling they want to see what’s still left under the hood, so to speak.

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