On the one hand the 56th running of the Rebel Stakes is just a retooling of the Southwest Stakes; the local prep race for this run a month ago. On the other hand, there are a couple of horses who will be invading Oaklawn Park tomorrow who will have something to say about the outcome.
So let’s first take a look at some key horses coming out of the Southwest Stakes.
(5) Discreetness – winner of the Smarty Jones, Discreetness got the worst of it in the Southwest. The son of Discreet Cat broke from post 14 and was floated 8 wide before they hit the first turn. After they straightened out and hit the back stretch jockey John Court attempted to get his horse in a good position so that he didn’t lose ground on the turn for home. However, it seamed to backfire, by the time they hit the stretch for home, it was apparent the early ground loss and premature move tired the big colt. With a move into post 5 Discreetness should be able to redeem himself in the Rebel. Jockey John Court sticks and I think the tough trip in the last race gave him a good experience of how this one runs. Ground loss should be reduced as well as the likelihood of any premature moves. Pace should be there as well as price (12-1 ), a definite in multi race bets and exotics.
(6) Siding Spring – When the gates opened in the Southwest Stakes it looked as if American Dubai would be the one getting to the front end and setting up the race for his entry mate. Certainly from his past performances, it didn’t seam like Siding Spring would have gone out like that. However, with the 10 post and a fresh jockey J.S. Rocco Jr. perhaps it was a premeditated plan to go for a surprise tactic and take the race to the front end. As it turns out what happened was that Siding Spring and American Dubai locked into a speed duel and pushed a strong pace. By the time the race was over Siding Spring had cooked to a fifth place finish and the exacta went to two deep closers who had taken advantage of that pace. Not convinced the connections will go with the same aggressive game plan. This unknown factor makes Siding Spring a wildcard as to the race will set up, which will make all the difference in the outcome. My gut feeling is that this one is better on turf where he started out. If he throws in a clunker hopefully they put him back on the lawn.
(8) American Dubai – The second accomplice of the fast paced set-up in the Southwest Stakes is American Dubai. Despite that fast pace, American Dubai’s efforts to hold for third showed he may have what it takes to be a good one in the future. As for the Rebel, a lot will depend on how the pace does sets up – which includes what the previous mentioned horse does, as well as Ralis coming out of post 3. One of the few who I would bet on setting it up for closers and still being there at the end, but if he is anywhere near his 12-1 morning line price I will have no choice but to use him.
(10) Whitmore – The only thing more visually impressive than the deep winning move Suddenbreakingnews pulled off in winning the Southwest Stakes was the one jockey Mike Smith asked Whitmore to pull off. The son of Pleasantly Perfect unleashed a breathtaking sweep well before they hit the far turn. The Rebel will be his third race of a form cycle that started with a 6-furlong win in an optional claimer. Only bad race was run in the slop at Delta Downs despite that one, his dirt form is consistent. This one looks like the real deal and tomorrow may be a peak race for him.
(12) Suddenbreakingnews – Second time in a row he will be breaking from a far outside post, but with deep closers it doesn’t always matter. This son of Mineshaft took every advantage of the hot set up he got in the Southwest. Although I’m not taking anything away from him, this is certainly a quality horse. Has gotten first or second in all of his six lifetime races as well as earning over $440K, making him the wealthiest horse in the race. However, at 3-1 odds I will definitely take a shot at beating him.
Now let’s take a look and see what some of the invaders will bring to the table.
(3) Ralis – peak effort for this California bred was in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last summer at Saratoga. In that race he scored at nearly 7-1 odds and made a 16-point jump in Beyer Speed figure from 77 to 93. After that race he was entered in the Grade 1 Champaign Stakes as the favorite, however according to the big book on speed figures and bounce candidates it looked like Ralis was primed to do just that, which he did. In fact, it seemed like he had bounced in the last two races he ran in 2015. Those two races also happened to be Grade 1’s, which may have been the reason trainer Doug O’Neil gave Ralis a long break. This will be his first race back since that break and I have a feeling that this California horse will take money at the windows. I would feel more comfortable betting him after seeing this horse get a race or two under his belt.
(4) Cupid – Last year Bob Baffert went into this race with many questions hanging over his lone entry. How will he run off the layoff, will he be able to rate of the pace, will he handle the slop? As it turned out American Pharoah not only answered all those questions but he destroyed everything in his path. This year Baffert will have a solid $900K Tapit purchase coming out of post 4. His name is Cupid and although he is not the prodigious freak that American Pharoah was, he certainly has come along well enough to win this race. His last race saw him break his maiden after three attempts but it also was at the distance of this race: a mile and 1/16th. The 2016 low key Bob Baffert may get to sneak his horse into the Rebel at a square price so don’t forget to click the 4 in your bets.
(11) Cherry Wine – OK, I’ve saved the best for last. Crafty trainer Dale Romans may have the most intriguing horse running in this race tomorrow. It is not often you see horses cut through the speed favoring track at Gulfstream Park like a hot knife through butter the way Cherry Wine did on January 9th of this year. That is what the grey son of the turf sire Paddy O’Prado did in a well contested optional claimer that saw the second place finisher win his next race out. Since then Cherry Wine was scratched in the Fountain of Youth and has been redirected to Oaklawn Park for this race. Oh year Cherry Wine is 12-1 morning line.
Bets: $5 exacta box (5, 10, 11) = $30
$3 exacta box (4, 10, 11) = $18
$1 exacta part wheel – 10 / 4, 5, 8, 11, 12 = $5
$ 1 exacta part wheel – 4, 5, 8, 11, 12 /10 = $5