Derby Trail Stakes Preview – Rebel (G2)

We have three hours to sneak this in before they run the Rebel just after 7:00 pm EST today at Oaklawn Park as part of their run to the Arkansas Derby. The race has brought together a diverse field from all over the country, with representatives from Arkansas, California, New Orleans, and South Florida. Let’s take a look at the field.

1 – Silver Bullion (30-1) – This D. Wayne Lukas trainee comes out of a runner-up finish in an allowance race on February 18th. He’s been up close in his recent races but probably isn’t fast enough to be a part of the early pace here, and seems over matched.

2 – Uncontested (10-1) – The likely front-runner in a race that should feature a fast pace, Uncontested was impressive in the Smarty Jones two-back but not good in the Southwest last time when he was all done at the top of the lane. With more pace signed on here, he seems to be in a tough spot from a race-flow perspective.

3 – Sonneteer (30-1) – This 8-start maiden from trainer Keith Desormeaux has the right off-the-pace style for this race but seems to be a bit overmatched, having never run faster than a 77 Beyer.

4 – Petrov (9-2) – We like this horse. He’s been stuck in tricky spots each of his last two races. Two-back, he had to chase Uncontested while that one wired the field. Then last time, he had to be concerned about Uncontested, so he chased him through solid fractions, but then didn’t have an answer for One Liner when that one ran by (One Liner is bypassing this race for a final prep in the coming weeks). Today, however, Petrov is going to be able to settle off the pace and make a run. Without having to do that dirty work early, we suspect he’ll be heard from late.

5 – Untrapped (8-1) – We liked him in the Risen Star last time at Fair Grounds (February 25th) and he ran well, but had a good trip and was no match for Girvin (who also had a good trip). That race, however, did not come back especially fast and it feels like the New Orleans runners are a cut below those he’ll have to beat today. We’ll use underneath only.

6 – Malagacy (4-1) – This Todd Pletcher runner comes up from Florida where he began his career 2-2. That said, one start was at 5.5 furlongs and one was at 6.5 furlongs, so now he stretches out to 8.5 furlongs in a  race with other speed and some strong opponents. He can obviously win, but will be a short price, and we’ll oppose, knowing full well that Pletcher stretched out One Liner to win here at Oaklawn in the Southwest and that he is one of the game’s best trainers stretching out horses on the dirt.

7 – American Anthem (2-1) – We were huge fans of his last race, the Sham Stakes on January 7th. In that race, he set a very fast pace, battled Gormley down to the wire, and just missed. He might well have won the race had he been on the outside and Gormley on the inside. Gormley came back and ran very poorly last week in the San Felipe (we will have recaps of the San Felipe and Tampa Bay Derby, along with this race, on this site next week). We’re still big fans of this horse, but want to take a small shot against on against on the top end because of the other speed that he will have to deal with in this race.

8 – Silver Dust (15-1) – We thought he ran pretty well all things considered in the Southwest, his first start off a two month freshening. In that race, he was behind horses and into the lane and had to wait briefly for room at a key point. he ran on decently, though obviously no match for the winner. He has still only made three starts and is moving forward for trainer Randy Morse. Can he win today? I don’t know, but he will be a big price and will certainly get some pace to attack. He’ll be on the tickets.

9 – Appalachian Gem (30-1) – This Jack Van Berg trainee has run a 70 Beyer in all three starts and won a maiden race on the Southwest Card last month. However, he just seems way too slow to compete in this group.

10 – Royal Mo (9-2) – The Lewis winner comes east for trainer John Sherrifs with a horse that beat a weaker field in his stakes win, doing so while setting a moderate pace. The race came back fast, and he’s not a need-the-lead type, but he drew poorly, and outside of the Lewis, when he received the most favorable of set-ups, he hasn’t been good enough to win a strong race like this.

11 – Lookin at Lee (15-1) – The deep closer comes into this race off of a distant third in the Southwest over this track, though in that race he did get a decent enough pace to attack and never really impacted. He will get some pace today, but we prefer Silver Dust, who has only made three starts, to Lookin at Lee, who has made seven.

The Pace – It should be fast. Uncontested figures to go to the front but American Anthem and Malagacy won’t be too far off of him. Petrov and Uncontested should be in the next flight along with longshot Silver Bullion.

Analysis – As we said in the write-up, we are going with Petrov. He should get a great trip under Jose Ortiz, stalking the fast pace and getting the jump on the late runners. We’ll put Silver Dust second and likely favorite American Anthem third.

The Play – We’ll play Petrov to win at 7-2 or better and box him in the exacta with Silver Dust and American Anthem. In the trifecta, we’ll use Petrov and Silver Dust on top but won’t let Uncontested or Lookin at Lee beat us if they run third at a big price.

Good luck!

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