The Rebel Stakes is one of March’s biggest Kentucky Derby prep races, and if you’re planning a trip to Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort for Saturday’s big event, we have ten things you’re going to need to know before you go.
1. Know who’s running.
The Rebel Stakes pretty much guarantees its winner a spot in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve: the victor earns 50 qualifying points, and the minimum number of points needed to get into the starting gate at the run for the roses last year was 40. Top Triple Crown hopefuls Nadal and Silver Prospector headline a field of eight in the Rebel.
2. This race has a pretty impressive roster of past winners.
Do you like famous horses? The Rebel has ‘em. Superstar Thoroughbreds like American Pharoah, Omaha Beach, and Smarty Jones have all won this race; who knows what the future holds to this year’s winner?
3. Come hungry.
If you like food, you’re going to love Oaklawn! Carnivores, be sure to try the corned beef sandwich: it’s delicious and it’s genuinely famous in the world of horse racing as one of the best meals you can get at the racetrack.
4. Hot Springs, Ark. (home of Oaklawn) is a really cool town.
Hot Springs is a small town with a big heart. Packed with great restaurants, museums, galleries, bars, and even a national park, there’s something for everyone there. The city has an incredible history: in addition to the racetrack, Hot Springs has several claims to fame: it was the childhood home of President Bill Clinton as well as the go-to vacation spot for notorious gangsters like Al Capone in the 1920s. Looking for something to do when you’re not at the track? Here’s a list of events in town to check out!
5. There’s going to be a St. Patrick’s Day party in the infield!
If you love a party, plan on heading into Oaklawn’s beautiful infield for their St. Patrick’s Day celebration. In addition to great views of the racing action, there will be live music, food trucks, and children’s activities like face painting and a petting zoo!
6. There’s Batman trivia night on Thursday!
If you’re going to be in Hot Springs this Thursday, be sure to head to the racetrack on Thursday night at 7 p.m. local time to take part in some Batman trivia. I honestly don’t know if people wear costumes to these, but I’m begging you to pack your cowl.
7. The Rebel Stakes is just one of the top races at Oaklawn this Saturday.
While the Rebel Stakes is definitely the headline event at Oaklawn this Saturday, it’s one of a trifecta of big races on offer this Saturday. The Azeri Stakes for fillies and mares (female horses, that is!) aged four years old and up takes place on March 14, as does the Essex Handicap for four-year-olds and up.
8. Leave some extra room in your suitcase, because Oaklawn’s gift shop is sensational.
If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir of your weekend or trying to find the ideal present for your loved ones, look no further than the Winning Colors Gift Shop on the first floor of the Grandstand. I’ve scored some seriously good loot there for my family, from a onesie for my newborn godson to the perfect hat for my dad.
9. Grab breakfast in the track kitchen one morning.
Want a breakfast of champions? Head to Oaklawn’s track kitchen, where you’ll dine like royalty for incredibly affordable prices. It’s open from daily to the public from 6 a.m.-1 p.m., and you’ll be able to eat right next to some of the track’s top owners and trainers when you go.
10. Wanna play? There's a casino right at the track.
We know you want to play the ponies while you’re at Oaklawn, but if you’re hungry for a little action once the races are over, you can head directly to the track’s casino. There you’ll find slots, blackjack, craps, Texas Hold ‘Em, and a whole lot more. Want the details? Head here!