The Rebel (Grade II)

3/18/2017 Oaklawn Park-Race 10

The Rebel Stakes-$900,000—Grade II

1 & 1/16th Miles on Dirt for Three-Year-Olds

Post Time: 4:05 P.M. PST

Analysis by Michael Patricks

The analysis returns this week with a preview of the Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn Park.  50 Kentucky Derby Points will be handed out to the winner of this race which now exists in its 57th edition.  The racing secretary has attracted a very salty field of 11 to compete at the 1 & 1/16th Miles distance.  Bob Baffert has had nothing short of a stranglehold on this race in years past winning with Lookin at Lucky (2010), The Factor (2011), Secret Circle (2012), Hoppertunity (2014), American Pharoah (2015), and Cupid in (2016).  Not surprisingly, American Anthem is the 2/1 morning line favorite, hailing from the Bob Baffert barn.  Will Baffert make it seven out of eight in another axiomatic Bob Baffert-like coronation?  Or, will eyebrows be raised amidst the confetti of losing chalk players tickets when Boxcar Willie has his picture taken after the race?  Let’s examine the “Tail of the Tape”.

1-Silver Bullion 30/1 ML- It wouldn’t be a major prep race at Oaklawn Park without having one of Coach D Wayne’s going around.  Silver Bullion stuck it out quite well when graduating over this surface two back while sprinting.  In his first start against winners and while trying two turns, he ran hooked but stayed on for second (taking home the “silver” bullion in the process, coincidentally).  By Triple Crown-siring American Pharoah, Silver Bullion has the pedigree to pick up his feet and have some sort of say in the outcome however, his running lines appear to class up a bit light. His high Beyer of 74 is tantamount to being the 16 seed in the play-in game of the NCAA tournament during his time of year.  Many of D. Wayne’s entrants in major stakes races over the past several years have not managed to move the needle on the Richter scale whatsoever and am of the mind his performance will be no exception to that general rule; should say “uncle” before the far turn.

2-Uncontested 10/1 ML- Like many sports fan feel about their teams, or music fans feel about once prominent-yet now fading artists, a glimpse at Uncontested’s past performances yields the inescapable time honored aphorism of “What have you done for me lately?”  Horse players are no exception to the prevailing societal notion that the idea of loyalty has been disavowed by many, while band wagoning has never been more popular.  From a pure wagering perspective, it’s difficult to argue with that philosophy, especially coming from one like myself who is camouflaged in the wilderness, full military fatigues upon my person, painted with the full war paint on, and endlessly hunting for value.  Uncontested rewarded chalk players in the Smarty Jones, but recall you were forewarned in my thoughts on the Southwest that the Hot Springs Fire Department would have to be called out to douse the flames after the wheels came off on Uncontested last time at even money.  Suddenly on Saturday 1/1 has risen to 10/1, and there is very little reason to believe that Uncontested can survive a speed duel. Likewise, there is little evidence on paper to show that he has it in him to rate and pass a horse.  Unless the track comes up wet, he’s not carrying any of mine; he’s not dragging me into the sandpit with him.

3-Sonneteer 30/1 ML-

One fine day at the mutuel window with form in hand,

There stood a groom on television next to his horse.

As much as it grieveth me to think of its chances thereon,

                It made me scratch my head and wonder if the equine did like this course

Circling the paddock the horse walked by pity-eyed,

Another new rider was cast atop its back.

Riders Up was the call the horsemen heard say,

                As the 30/1 shot was sent out to the track

Nary a win to his credit as he still sought cap and gown,

                Straight maidens and synthetics had cause him to fret.

Into the wallet the desperate punter goes,

A fool born every minute, some stooper boasts.

Leaveth those chalk players at the alter behind, brave hearted longshot punters say,

The cash of a lifetime in a lifetime of cashes shall this be his graduation day.

-Michael Patricks

4-Petrov 9/2 ML- Runner up last time in the Southwest, Petrov was completely run over by One Liner in mid-stretch over the same surface and distance as Saturday’s event.  To the naked eye, the pace was definitely quick last time and it’s entirely possible that Petrov may have been a bit too close to the fire in front of him as he surrendered an open length lead in the short stretch at Oaklawn–not something one sees every day.  With the cavalcade of speed to Petrov’s left and right in the starting gate, expect Jose Ortiz try and get him to drop in a bit more from this cozy post and see if he can’t close with more of a rush through the lane this time around, while getting a jump on the deeper closers.  His value is cut in half which is a bit souring, yet his chances are more than realistic that he could be the right pony to capitalize. Has been a bit of a “seconditis” type at times, but he absolutely figures as part of the picture in the Rebel.  Since he’s absolutely aching for Derby points with a mere eight to his credit, he serves as a must use.

5-Untrapped 8/1 ML- Comes out of the Risen Star off a second place finish that saw him chase Girvin home. (Girvin is being pointed for the Louisiana Derby.)  Untrapped sits in ninth position on points to qualify at this point and it’s hard to know whether trainer Steve Asmuseen truly believes this is an easier spot for Untrapped, or if in the alternative he feels like he needs to get another race into this colt, instead of waiting for the April 1st Louisiana Derby (and that’s no joke).  My guess is that it’s the latter.  His Beyer speed figures continue to improve and he switches surfaces in traveling to Oaklawn.  It’s incredibly interesting to note that Ricardo Santana gets off his back to stay on top of Lookin at Lee’s.  Untrapped figures to be half the price of his stable mate and drew well for the Rebel.  On the downside, Guest Suite came back to be nowhere in the Risen Star after taking down the LeComte, and Girvin simply had a gear that this guy didn’t possess when they turned for home together.  This colt is still figuring it out and am of the mind he may be a bit of a wise guy horse in this circumstance; proceed with caution.

6-Malagacy 4/1 ML- is an Austronesian language and the national language of Madagascar. Most people in Madagascar speak it as a first language as do some people of Malagasy descent elsewhere (Wikipedia). This horse appears to be a stone cold runner and is very scary.  He’s decimated a combined 13 rivals in two starts, winning by a combined 22 lengths in two sprint races.  By Shackleford, you can expect him to go right to the front and be as tenacious as a race horse can be on the front end.  He is leaving Gulfstream Park, trying two turns, and taking on graded Stakes company in the process, so this is no small chore.  He’s also shown that he can sit off a horse and take care of business, which could make him a push button type and those are the ones who become future champions in this sport.  Make no mistake about the fact this is a huge step up in class.  However, if he passes this test with flying colors, you are probably looking at one of your favorites on the first Saturday in May; they don’t get any scarier than him.

7-American Anthem 2/1 ML- Handsome devil from the Bob Baffert barn will be the favorite in the race and have many eyes on him.  As stated in the introduction, Bob Baffert is seeking seven out of eight wins in this race and his success at Oaklawn Park is well publicized and the praise he has received as a result is most meritorious.  After Mastery’s withdrawal due to injury, Mike Smith finds himself in the market for another Derby horse and American Anthem could be the one.  He was resolute in his graduation at Del Mar before running hooked with Gormley all the way around the track in the Sham.  His competitive spirit and fire are there and Baffert has put a ton of wind in his sails for his appearance Saturday.  The main question is whether he can sit off a torrid pace and finish with gusto.  If he can do that he’s your likely winner.  If he gets caught in the firing line, you can expect him to give an Irish goodbye with hat in hand.  Realize he’s going to be over bet on his corporate, name brand connections alone, but he obviously figures to be prominent throughout.

8-Silver Dust 15/1 ML- Regally-bred son of Tapit ran like a horse who absolutely needed the race last out in the Southwest, pulling a bit before passing a couple tired ones en route to a fourth place finish.  Silver Dust has eight lengths to make up on Petrov and must find a way to avoid trouble.  His maiden victory at Churchill was quite professional and that came second start off a lay, so good things could be in his forecast at about twice the price of last time’s disappointing run.  I believe in “zagging” when others are “zigging” and that would mean you should look at including him at a price in exotics for the Rebel.  It’s a bit of a reach to see him headed back to the barn with flowers around his neck, but it would surprise me quite a bit if he didn’t step forward with a much more competitive effort and spicing up the exotics payouts in the process; don’t quit on him just yet.

9-Appalachian Gem 30/1 ML- It’s a bit perplexing to see Gary Stevens jumping on board to ride this horse.  Appalachian Gem graduated with an open lengths score at Oaklawn Park last time and trainer Jack Van Berg subsequently tosses him into the deep end of the pool for some serious “sink or swim” time.  His off the pace style could benefit him somewhat and he figures to pass some tired horses, but he would still need to improve by about 15 lengths off his maiden score to make an impression.  His typical 70 Beyer speed figure is simply not good enough and given the fact Silver Dust (who has something to prove) handled Dilettante in breaking his maiden, and that Dilettante took care of him by open lengths two back, it leads to the indissoluble conclusion that this one’s much more of a “participant” than competitor; also-ran.

10 Royal Mo 9/2 ML- There are some angles to like in this guy’s corner.  He’s shown versatility in his races, demonstrating speed from the gate and also that he can pass horses.  ‘Mo has been able to duel and finish, and he’s also been able to race well near the rail and well off it.  He’ll need all his versatility with him from a very difficult barrier and quick run into the first turn in the Rebel.  Royal Mo must prove he is better than the races he comes out of as well.  He beat the hapless Sonneteer in breaking his maiden two back, and last time out in the Robert Lewis he fended off another maiden in Irab, while Sheer Flattery came back to run dead last in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields after being installed as the morning line favorite.  He returned a nice Beyer speed figure of 94 last out and does figure with another step forward on Saturday.  Yet, the short price, wide post, ship to Oaklawn and running lines he has on his ledger are enough to cool my jets on the wind end; demand value if you head to the window to bet on his nose.

11-Lookin at Lee 15/1 ML- No stranger to the outside post, this will be Lookin at Lee’s third start in four races from the far outside.  Last time out in the Southwest, Lookin at Lee bobbled at the start and did not get away from the gate in good order, finding himself a good margin behind the second to last horse in the race.  Interestingly, Ricardo Santana stays with him and that speaks volumes.  The pace will be lively and you can expect Santana to get him away from the gate in one piece and drop anchor, though trying to keep him a bit closer to the back markers than he has been.  His third place finish was admittedly “just okay” last time, but he was coming off a three month layoff and looked like a horse that absolutely needed one.  He retains blinkers today and one should expect an uptick from his 83 Beyer speed figures he’s been stuck on, especially if they go too fast early.  He’s a must use underneath, and I’d be very surprised if you didn’t see this guy ring the bell at some point as racing moves closer to its more classic distances for three-year-olds, given enough pace to chase in front of him; upset potential.

Selections: 4-7-11-10