The Rebel

op sleek

Oaklawn Park is a fun place, and this Saturday the Road to Kentucky will wind into Hot Springs, Arkansas for the Rebel Stakes. In the last decade it’s hosted a number of talented animals into the winners’ circle, often before its connections really knew what a good thing they had. Smarty Jones, Lawyer Ron, Curlin, Lookin at Lucky and Will Take Charge among others have all counted this among their early graded victories in successful careers and while the numbers aren’t bulging in this year’s edition the quality is there. The Southwest-Rebel double hasn’t been pulled off since 2004 though, and Tapiture will definitely take his share of the money in this year’s Rebel….can we find a price for some double points? There are not many (but a few) possibilities, so let’s take a look:

As stated before, the winner of the Southwest hasn’t had an abundance of luck when it comes to the Rebel in the past few years, but presuming that Tapiture ends up the favorite the hope is that Strong Mandate ends up the second choice with the popular opinion that he “ran the better race” in said race. As I have in the past, I’ll fly the California Flag and hope that Kobe’s Back validates the coastal form by running another effort like he did in the San Vicente. The runner up came back to get beat in a three horse race, but Kobe’s Back can’t really be judged by that race alone. He’s had his share of troubles in all of his lifetime starts, but given a clear (WIDE) lane to run last time he simply cruised by to the wire. He’s not petite, so it seems the game plan keeps clearing: Let him gather himself and stay out of his way. The outside draw fits well for that reason alone. The last tactic (WAY last to first) used is ill-advised with the trend playing out this spring at Oaklawn, but he has a lot of talent and a big stride to eat up the added distance as long as he stays out of trouble. Rosario does depart for Strong Mandate but he’s ridden them both in the past and with the schedule he keeps these days keeping the winners separate has got to be impossible. Lezcano is a perfectly capable replacement and with this type of horse shouldn’t cause a problem. He hasn’t ridden a winner for Sadler in years, but he hasn’t been aboard too many either. From a small sample, Sadler has a good record shipping into Arkansas. He’s done it three times in the past five years, and none since running second with Switch in 2011. He did upset the apple cart with Line of David in the Arkansas Derby a few years ago though….don’t think for a second that a young horse ships in from his stable without a huge chance.

I hate to stay on the same ship for another possibility, but with the spring weather that we’ve all had in the Midwest things just haven’t gone as smoothly schedule-wise for locals at Oaklawn. Add to that Bob Baffert’s obnoxiously high percentage shipping into Oaklawn and you have a small chance for a price with Hoppertunity. In five years, BB has shipped in for 25 races and won 14 of them, and until last year had posted a five race win streak with shippers. Super Ninety Nine was by admission not his best last year and he still ran away with the Southwest….then Baffert’s luck went south in a hurry.

I don’t think Hoppertunity’s the most talented runner in the stable but he has somewhat of a Den’s Legacy feel to him and that got a piece in this spot last year. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he got “used” in his career debut to make the race go for Bayern, but with Bayern blowing both Pegram-Weitman horses out of the water it would appear they didn’t expect a dynamite effort from this one right off the bat. He didn’t help himself out at the start, but the next effort doesn’t really prove a ton. The horse that shows up in both Trifectas of his MSW efforts (Snuggley Bear) is becoming a professional maiden of sorts and Day of Fury (3rd in start 2) is another Baffert runner owned by his trainer. Hop’ ran better than I thought he might in the Risen Star, but his hefty price tag at auction is due in part to his talented sister Executiveprivilege and she did her damage at two… much better will he get?

Of the locals, the obvious contenders really stand pretty far above the new faces. I can’t recommend any of the newcomers with confidence, as the numbers sort of stand against their conditioners as far as graded stakes go. That’s not to say their trainers aren’t any good, just this particular circumstance isn’t in the wheelhouse. Tapiture is the local I’d prefer over Strong Mandate if forced to choose between the two, but for contest play he won’t make much of a difference should he win. If all goes according to the blog, someone will be taking the money and running to California with it.

Good luck and remember to keep one of our longtime Canterbury jockeys Anne Von Rosen in your thoughts and prayers.

UPDATE from Minnesota HBPA: An account has been set up at Voyager Bank in Shakopee for Anne. There will also be a benefit fund raiser for her once the race meet begins. In the meantime, please keep her in your prayers!!

Voyager Bank
500 Marschall Rd
Shakopee, MN 55379

Checks can be sent “For the Benefit of Anne VonRosen”.


See you Saturday everyone!

Angela Hermann


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