Monday Morning Mig: Rebel Stakes Rewind

Malagacy burst onto the Kentucky Derby scene with his Rebel Stakes win on March 18. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Retired jockey Richard Migliore, who works as a racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, offers his expertise from the perspective of a professional rider in a new regular feature for America's Best Racing — Monday Morning Mig. A winner of 4,450 career races and the 1981 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice will review key races on the Triple Crown trail and the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, providing his thoughts leading into the race, insights about what happened during the running of the race and key takeaways from the outcome.

This week, Migliore takes a closer look at the March 18 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

1. The Post Positions: With a large field of 11, I thought the outside post positions would be a hindrance. There appeared to be a lot of speed in the race which I thought would help Petrov who has been chasing uncontested leaders recently. 

2. The Start: It was no surprise that runner Uncontested went to the lead. What was surprising was the lack of company he had while doing it. Several other speed types were either caught wide, most notably Royal Mo and American Anthem, or failed to show their customary speed. This allowed Malagacy to fall into the perfect trip stalking the leader.

3. The Big Move: There were two big moves in the Rebel: Javier Castellano getting his position going forward into the first turn and then getting Malagacy to relax while stalking the pace. The next notable big move was by jockey Richard Eramia aboard the runner-up Sonneteer, saving ground and knifing his way through the field while closing from well back.

4. The Big Miss: Rather than big misses per se, several horses appeared not to fire, most notably Royal Mo and American Anthem.

5. The Finish: I thought the pace would be much stronger on a track that was playing kind to speed all day. The lack of pace compromised several horses but may have hurt the Steve Asmussen runner Lookin at Lee. Breaking from post 11, he was already at a disadvantage but closed well from last while having to leave the inside portion of the track which seemed like the place to be.

6. The Takeaway: It is hard to not be impressed with Malagacy who is now 3-for-3 and stretched out successfully in his two turn debut. He did take advantage of a perfect trip in a fairly slow running of the Rebel Stakes. This race did little to clarify the Kentucky Derby picture for me.

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