Papo analyzes the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn
Oaklawn Park Race 10 Rebel Stakes
All eyes this weekend will be on Oaklawn Park for the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes, the second leg of Oaklawn’s three-year-old Kentucky Derby prep races. First run in 1961 and won by Bass Clef, the Rebel Stakes has been a popular prep for horses with Derby dreams. This year’s edition has drawn a strong field of 11. On paper, this race has a ton of early speed. Those horses that like to lay the heat on the front end include Silver Bullion (30-1), Uncontested (10-1), Malagacy (4-1), and Royal Mo (9-2). If they all blast away from the gate, the early fractions could be blazing which should set the race up for a horse from off the pace. That is not to say Uncontested and/or Malagacy could not wire the field but I think the pace may be too hot early for one of them to hold one for win honors.
Morning-line favoritism in this race falls on American Anthem(2-1) for Mr. Rebel himself, Bob Baffert. Baffert has an incredible record in the Rebel Stakes winning it six of the last seven years. His winning Rebel resume looks like this:
2010 – Lookin at Lucky
2011 – The Factor
2012 – Secret Circle
2014 – Hoppertunity
2015 – American Pharoah
2016 – Cupid
While not all these horses went on to be classic winners, it is obvious that Baffert knows what type of horse will excel at Oaklawn Park going 1 1/16th miles. This year he ships in the lightly raced American Anthem. The three-year-old colt by Bodemeister broke his maiden at six furlongs in his first start at Delmar in December. It was an impressive maiden win as he was marooned out in post 11 and showed maturity, being able to establish a stalking position before going on to win by a neck.
Baffert thought well enough of him after that start to run him in the Grade 2 Sham Stakes a month later. In the Sham, he was sent from the rail over a muddy track and came up a head short to Gormly at the wire. While he did not win the race, the tenacity he showed battling down to the wire against a horse that had a lot more experience should pay dividends in this race. It was a educational loss and it must not have taken a lot out of him, as he returned to the work tab just 10 days later working four furlongs in 48.3. He has maintained a strong workout pattern since and looks to be coming into this race in top form. I expect Mike Smith to set up shop right behind the early speed and make his move turning for home. While the morning line is short on value (and I don’t even know if we’ll get 2-1), American Anthem looks primed to keep the Baffert winning streak alive in the Rebel.
So how do make money playing with a short-priced favorite? Let’s try to key and wheel American Anthem with two horses who should also be sitting off the early speed. Petrov (9 -2) and Untrapped (8-1) both have running styles that fit the pace dynamics of this race. Petrov, trained by Ron Moquett, has been the bridesmaid his last three races running second to One Liner, Uncontested, and Even Thunder. In those races, he did a bit of the dirty work keeping the pace horses honest throughout the race. With other speed signed on in this race, Petrov should be able to run his own race. His speed figures have improved with every start and being by Flatter, should only to get better with each and every race. Moquett put a sharp work into him on March 4th when he went five furlongs in 59.3, signaling all systems go.
Untrapped ships into this race from Fair Grounds for trainer Steve Asmussen after running second in two consecutive Derby prep races, the Grade 3 Lecomte and Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. He too, has increased his speed figures in every start and always seems to be running on strong at the end of his races. You get a jockey change to Irad Ortiz Jr. and I like the confidence Asmussen shows shipping him over off only three weeks rest. While I’m not sold Untrapped will be a classic distance horse, being by Trappe Shot, the 1 1/16th miles of this race is well within his scope.
If playing trifectas and supers you may want to include Silver Dust and Lookin At Lee both at (15-1) on the bottom of your tickets. Another outstanding Derby prep race and the best of luck to all.