Who’s Targeting the Rebel Stakes?

Who’s Targeting the Rebel Stakes?

The field for the Rebel Stakes is taking shape–will Bob Baffert send Mor Spirit? © Benoit Photo

Although the complete field remains in flux, the list of colts that are targeting the March 19th Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park is starting to come together.

With a $900,000 purse and a total of 85 Kentucky Derby qualification points on the line, the Rebel Stakes is a major stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby, and the list of recent winners reads like a “who’s who” of grade I winners and champions, including American Pharoah, Hoppertunity, Will Take Charge, Secret Circle, The Factor, and Lookin at Lucky.

Leading the probable starters for this year’s Rebel Stakes is Suddenbreakingnews, who produced a huge rally to win the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) on February 15th at Oaklawn by a decisive 2 3/4 lengths. Whitmore and American Dubai, who finished a half-length apart when second and third in the Southwest, are also expected to run in the Rebel.

Two notable also-rans from the Southwest that are targeting the Rebel are Siding Spring, who finished fifth after setting a very fast pace, and Cutacorner, who finished ninth after getting caught in traffic on the first turn. According to the Oaklawn Barn Notes for February 21st, trainer Jack Van Berg noted that Cutacorner “Cut his front legs, inside and out” during the Southwest.

Two newcomers to the Oaklawn Derby preps are Vorticity, second in both the Jerome Stakes (gr. III) and Withers Stakes (gr. III), and Dazzling Gem, who won his debut going a mile at Oaklawn before returning to win an 8.5-furlong allowance race at Oaklawn on February 13th.

It’s also seems likely that trainer Bob Baffert will have a starter in the Rebel, given that he has won five of the last six renewals of the race. One possible candidate is Mor Spirit, winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity (gr. I) and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II). Mor Spirit had been under consideration for the March 12th San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita, but after being eased for precautionary reasons during a recent six-furlong workout (he turned out to be fine), it’s possible that the Rebel Stakes could come into consideration.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for email newsletters and special offers from The Turf Board! Also, if you’re a fan of horse racing history, please check out my upcoming book Lost to the Ages: 10 Forgotten Champions of U.S. Horse Racingscheduled for release later this year!

Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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Eric Rickard

My gut feeling is that Mor Spirit ends up here. It looks to e an easier race. The “aborted” work might sway Baffert. The San Felipe is shaping up to suit his style, though. I might be wishing that he ships to delay the Smokey Image match up. Two of my favorites.