The Rebel Stakes stars on Saturday as the only scheduled prep race on the road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve this weekend. The race carries a hefty purse and the Derby dreams of many top 3-year-olds, including Game Winner, Improbable, Gunmetal Gray, and Galilean.
Read on for the scoop on this year’s race at Oaklawn Park.
1. The Rebel Stakes was first run in 1961, making 2019 the 59th edition.
2. Eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah began his 3-year-old season in the 2015 Rebel, dominating his six foes by 6 ¼ lengths.
3. The Rebel has produced the Kentucky Derby winner on three occasions: 1983 (Sunny’s Halo), 2004 (Smarty Jones), and 2015 (American Pharoah).
4. This year is the first time in the race’s history that it will be split into two divisions. The race received a surplus of entrants after the San Felipe Stakes was cancelled, and Oaklawn officials have announced they will run two divisions of the Rebel, one with nine entrants and the other with 10.
5. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Rebel each of the last two years, and Bob Baffert won the race six of the seven years prior to 2017. Baffert brings champion Game Winner and undefeated Improbable to this year’s race.
6. The Rebel Stakes was scheduled to have a purse of $1 million and offer 85 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, awarded on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the top four finishers. However, since the race has been split, each division will carry 75 percent of the original purse and points: a $750,000 purse and 63.75 total Derby points with 37.5 points for the winner, 15 for second place, 7.5 for third and 3.75 for fourth.
7. It’s a major day of racing: Fans bet a whopping $10,771,984 on Rebel day last year, and an estimated 37,500 people packed the track.
8. No horse has completed the race faster than eventual champion Vanlandingham, who stopped the clock in 1:41 in the 1984 edition.
9. Since 2004, a remarkable five Rebel Stakes winners went on to be named champion 3-year-old: American Pharoah (2015), Will Take Charge (2013), Lookin at Lucky (2010), Curlin (2007), and Smarty Jones (2004).
10. Two horses have won the race by a record seven lengths: Manastash Ridge (1989) and Etony (1968).