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Rebel Stakes Preview

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 3/13/2014 7:45:28 PM

About the Race and Track

The $600, 000 Grade 2 mile and a sixteenth Rebel Stakes goes Saturday at Oaklawn Park and a short and sweet cast of 8 will pit skills with 50 points on the line for the winner to move toward eligibility to the Kentucky Derby.

Some nice runners have won this race over the years. Sunny’s Halo won this race in 1983 and eventually got the money the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs. Pine Bluff, Victory Gallop, Lawyer Ron and Curlin also won the Rebel and Smarty Jones not only took the Rebel in 2004 but was unbeaten going into the Belmont Stakes when seeking the Triple Crown but got beat by Birdstone and never raced again.

Last year Will Take Charge got up by a head in the Rebel earning a 96 Beyer and he verified that form winning a pair of Grade 1s since and just running second in the Big ‘Cap at Santa Anita last week.

A Longshot With Some Value:  Hoppertunity

Hoppertunity was flattered when the winner of his debut Bayern, trained by Bob Baffert, beat entry level allowance foes by 15 lengths with a 98 Beyer. Bayern would have been highly-regarded in the California Chrome’s San Felipe but scratched from that race was a foot bruise. Only beaten a length and a half for third last time in the Risen Star and he didn’t seem intimidated by the big field of 14.

The Pick: Kobe’s Back (Win)

Strong Mandate was educated in the debut, proved he can handle the off going in the Hopeful and was hung out to dry in the Champagne. There is a chance of showers here on Saturday, so keep one eye to the sky. Three exited his Juvenile effort win next out. In the Southwest last time, he missed the break, was in tight on the first turn, and he was switching leads back and fourth and was trying to get out in the process. The colt finished with interest in his work on March 6 getting the final quarter in :23.40. Can’t fault those that give him a shot to make amends for failing as chalk last time.

Tapiture ran okay in the debut but was beaten by today’s rival Strong Mandate. He just got late in next and was green in his third start. The coming out party was the maiden breaker in a Grade 2 at this distance at Churchill. He trained fast for his seasonal debut in the Southwest and trainer Steve Asmussen had him tightened down as he won going away by over 4 lengths with a career best 98 Beyer. One of his best assets is his tactical speed and the style to kick and open up on foes. With several in here with designs on the lead, one could envision him getting another solid stalk and pounce journey. Major player.

Kobe’s Back has only run one poor race and he had a valid excuse that day when he was hung out to dry on the first turn, and then clipped heels badly nearly falling in Shared Belief’s CashCall Futurity. And that was a very live race. The John Sadler trainee came back with a visually-impressive effort in the San Vicente coming from dead last to win the Grade 2 event going away with a career best 95 Beyer and getting his last furlong in :12.34. His sire was a proven router. His dam was sprint only but she dropped Well That’s Enough, who took 3 routes in the minor leagues. And if you got deep in the pedigree there are major successful classic influences. The 1:11 drill on March 7 was solid. It was 7 ticks the best over another Sadler runner that is a double winner and the average time for 6-furlongs on the morning of the 7th was 1:13.08. There seems to be enough speed here to help promote the kick. Sadler is 6 for 33 or 18% the last 5 years with sprint to route runners in a Graded race with a median payoff of 3-1 and 7 ran second. Respect.

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