The California-based colts Ralis and Cupid have joined the expected field for the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) on March 19th at Oaklawn Park, a major Kentucky Derby prep race that will offer 50 Derby qualification points to the winner.
Ralis, who is trained by Doug O’Neill, won the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga last year before finishing off the board in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He has been training well at Santa Anita in preparation for his 2016 debut. On March 4th, he breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80, and on March 10th, he breezed the same distance in 1:02.20.
“He’s doing really well,” O’Neill was quoted as saying on the Oaklawn Park website. “We gave him some well-deserved time off after his last couple that he didn’t just fire in and we’re trying to get him back to his Hopeful form, winning a Grade 1 at Saratoga. We’re trying to get back to those days.”
“After his last breeze, we said: ‘You know what, we think he’s good enough and ready enough to try the Rebel,’” O’Neill said. “We know it’s not going to be an easy race, but we think it’s a great Derby prep. It’s going to be a good test to kind of see where we’re at. If we run good there, we’re on our way to Kentucky.”
Cupid, trained by Bob Baffert, broke his maiden in impressive fashion on February 7th at Santa Anita and was entered to run in the March 12th San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) before scratching to await the Rebel Stakes. Earlier this morning, he breezed six furlongs in 1:11.60 at Santa Anita.
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