2020 Rebel Stakes Cheat Sheet

Racing
Graded stakes winners Silver Prospector (left) and Nadal headline Saturday’s $1 million Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, a qualifying points race for the Kentucky Derby. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Saturday’s $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park has been one of the most significant preps for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve in recent years.

weekend Television schedule

Saturday, March 14: 3-7 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

Sunday, March 15: 3-6:30 p.m. ET on FS2; post time varies on TVG

The Rebel is the local prep at the Hot Springs, Ark., track for the Arkansas Derby, and it has served as the coming-out party for such notable horses as Kentucky Derby winners Smarty Jones (2004) and American Pharoah (2015), along with last year’s morning-line Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach, who was scratched from the Derby due to injury. (Read more about the Rebel’s history here).

Eight contenders were entered for this year’s Rebel, headlined by Southwest Stakes winner Silver Prospector and San Vicente Stakes winner Nadal, the latter shipping in from California for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Run at 1 1/16 miles, the Rebel offers qualifying points to the May 2 Kentucky Derby on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the top four finishers.

The race will be shown live on the “America’s Day at the Races” broadcast airing on MSG and also on TVG. Post time is set for 6:23 p.m. ET.

Read on for information about all eight Rebel Stakes starters.


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Nadal (5-2)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman and Mark Mathiesen

Career record: 2 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $153,000

Earnings per start: $76,500

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107

Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 0

Pedigree: Blame – Ascending Angel, by Pulpit

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Undefeated Nadal ships to Hot Springs from Santa Anita Park for his first start in a Kentucky Derby qualifying points race. Despite facing a distance and class test, he stands a good chance of going off as the post-time favorite. That’s a testament both to Bob Baffert’s success in the Rebel – he’s won the race a record six times and has trained nine of the last 11 betting favorites – and to this colt’s considerable potential. He flashed talent right off the bat in his first career start, which came only two months ago at Santa Anita, romping by 3 ¾ lengths in a Jan. 19 six-furlong maiden race. In his next start, Nadal pressed pacesetter Ginobili early on in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes (G2) on Feb. 9 at Santa Anita, and then outfinished that foe in a game victory that boosted his Equibase Speed Figure from 102 in his debut to an eye-catching 107. Baffert has kept the pedal down on this son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame during his workouts since that race (his last five-furlong drill came in :59.60, fastest of 58 horses on March 8) and he’s got a stamina-rich pedigree that will help him as he makes his first start in a route race. This year’s Rebel field is competitive, but Nadal has shown signs of being one of those special Bob Baffert-trained horses of recent vintage such as 2015 Rebel winner and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. One way or another, we’ll find out more about Nadal Saturday; racing with blinkers off for the first time, he will probably be put into play early by jockey Joel Rosario breaking from the rail and either contest No Parole for the early lead or sit just behind him. Baffert’s other five Rebel winners are eventual Preakness Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky (2010); The Factor (2011); Secret Circle (2012); Hoppertunity (2014); and Cupid (2016). He also finished second in both divisions of last year’s Rebel with Improbable and Game Winner, the latter ridden by Rosario.


Coady Photography

2. Excession (30-1)

Jockey: Tyler Baze

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Calumet Farm

Career record: 8 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $88,612

Earnings per start: $11,007

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 87

Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 0

Pedigree: Union Rags – Draw It, by Tapit

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt joins Basin and Silver Prospector, drawn to his immediate outside, as representatives of Hall of Famer and current leading Oaklawn trainer Steve Asmussen in the Rebel Stakes. Unlike that pair, he’s a definite outsider who has only one win to his credit – a head victory on a sloppy track last November at Churchill Downs – and has established a consistency in terms of speed figures that puts him at a disadvantage compared with his stablemates and most of the rest of the Rebel field. He ran poorly in both of his recent stakes tries at Fair Grounds – a seventh in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) and an eighth in the second division of the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford (G2) – although he did have a slight excuse for the latter effort as he broke through the gate prior to the start. Overall, Excession appears overmatched against his Rebel opponents from both a speed and class perspective; he’s capable of grinding through the stretch and filling out a superfecta ticket, but anything more would be a surprise. Asmussen has won this race four times: Snuck In (2000); Windward Passage (2002); Hall of Famer and eventual Preakness Stakes winner Curlin (2007); and Long Range Toddy (first division, 2019).


Chelsea Durand/NYRA photo

3. Basin (3-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Jackpot Farm

Career record: 3 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $261,000

Earnings per start: $87,000

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 0

Pedigree: Liam’s Map – Appenzell, by Johannesburg

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: There are several very intriguing storylines heading into this year’s Rebel, including the built-up anticipation surrounding this precocious colt’s sophomore debut coming back after a six-month layoff. He was one of the stars of Saratoga’s summer 2019 meet, defeating Three Technique by 1 ¼ lengths in a six-furlong maiden race (his second start after nearly winning his debut at Churchill Downs) and then dominating the seven-furlong Runhappy Hopeful Stakes (G1) on Labor Day by 6 ½ lengths in the slop. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has worked Basin steadily over the past several weeks at Fair Grounds, and has tabbed another Hall of Famer, Javier Castellano, to ride him for his comeback. Asmussen’s first-call jockey, Ricardo Santana Jr., is on stablemate Silver Prospector for the Rebel. That horse, along with the rest of the Rebel field, has an edge over Basin in terms of recent race experience, but this son of 2015 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map takes a backseat to no rival in terms of talent. If he can flex that ability right off the layoff, he has the perfect stalking running style for this race, and Castellano should have him positioned to strike coming out of the far turn. Asmussen has won this race four times: Snuck In (2000); Windward Passage (2002); Hall of Famer and eventual Preakness Stakes winner Curlin (2007); and Long Range Toddy (first division, 2019). Castellano won the 2017 Rebel aboard Malagacy.


Eclipse Sportswire

4. Silver Prospector (7-2)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Ed and Susie Orr

Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $713,051

Earnings per start: $89,131

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103

Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 21

Pedigree: Declaration of War – Tap Softly, by Tapit

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Despite already having a graded stakes win on Oaklawn’s main track, this steadily improving colt is flying somewhat under the radar entering Saturday’s Rebel, overshadowed by Nadal’s appearance from the west coast and stablemate Basin’s return. He rebounded from a disappointing fourth-place finish in the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes on Jan. 24 at Oaklawn – his 3-year-old debut – with an impressive, rallying one-length win in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest Stakes (G3) on Presidents’ Day. Silver Prospector enjoyed a perfect trip in that race, saving ground under regular rider (and current Oaklawn Park leader) Ricardo Santana Jr. and angling out from the rail to overtake pacesetter Wells Bayou in the final strides. He earned a career-best 103 Equibase Speed Figure, and if he can boost that by about 5-10 points Saturday, this son of European Group 1 winner Declaration of War has a great chance of gaining enough points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate, as a first- or second-place finish (50 or 20 points added to his current 21) should do the trick. Asmussen has won this race four times: Snuck In (2000); Windward Passage (2002); Hall of Famer and eventual Preakness Stakes winner Curlin (2007); and Long Range Toddy (first division, 2019).


Coady Photography

5. No Parole (8-1)

Jockey: Joe Talamo

Trainer: Tom Amoss

Owner: Maggi Moss

Career record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $114,600

Earnings per start: $38,200

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102

Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 0

Pedigree: Violence – Plus One, by Bluegrass Cat

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Louisiana-bred moves out of state-bred competition after three dominating wins in bayou country and tackles the toughest field he’s faced by far in the Rebel, but he also brings a lot of positives to the contest. He has flashed overpowering speed in all three of his contests, taking two six-furlong races at Fair Grounds by a combined margin of 27 ½ lengths and then stepping up to stakes company in the Louisiana-Bred Premier Night Prince Stakes at Delta Downs and romping in the one-mile, two-turn Feb. 8 race by 6 ½ lengths. His pedigree is solid for extending out another sixteenth of a mile in distance for the Rebel, as a son of promising young sire Violence and out of a mare sired by 2006 Kentucky Derby runner-up Bluegrass Cat. Trainer Tom Amoss has a well-deserved reputation of placing his horses in just the right spots for them to excel, and having No Parole step up to face this field is an encouraging sign of confidence. Look for jockey Joe Talamo, currently enjoying a splendid debut meet riding at Oaklawn, to send No Parole straight to the lead to set the pace. This talented runner has not been tested yet, and he most certainly will be on Saturday, but he stands a longshot chance of pulling a Rebel upset. 


Adam Coglianese/NYRA

6. Three Technique (7-2)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Jeremiah Englehart

Owner: August Dawn Farm

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 3 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $154,750

Earnings per start: $30,950

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 4

Pedigree: Mr Speaker – Nite in Rome, by Harlan’s Holiday

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Three Technique is another solid contender in what shapes up to be a very competitive edition of the Rebel Stakes. He made a good impression in summer 2019 in New York, starting his career with two runner-up finishes at Belmont Park and Saratoga in sprints and then taking two seven-furlong races back-to-back by a combined margin of 10 lengths at Saratoga on Aug. 31 and then at Aqueduct on Nov. 20 after a break. He then shipped to Oaklawn for his 3-year-old debut and finished second to runaway pacesetter Gold Street in the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes. Trainer Jeremiah Englehart kept Three Technique at Oaklawn, pointing to the Rebel, and an improved effort can be expected in a race that shapes up well for his stalking running style. This son of young sire Mr Speaker owned by Bill Parcells’ August Dawn Farm has been favored in all five of his races, a streak that most likely will end Saturday, but he’s a logical choice to use in exactas and trifectas as he’s never failed to fire and should have a solid pace to close into. He’ll need to muster a career-best effort to win the Rebel.


7. Coach Bahe (30-1)

Jockey: Santo Sanjur

Trainer: Philip Bauer

Owner: Rigney Racing

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $32,000

Earnings per start: $10,667

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 87

Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 0

Pedigree: Take Charge Indy – Bauble, Tale of the Cat

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This maiden winner ships from Fair Grounds to Oaklawn as a Rebel Stakes longshot. He has raced three times in New Orleans, all at a mile or longer, finishing second in his debut last December, running 13th in a Jan. 18 race where he was bumped and steadied early on, and then winning a one-mile race in the mud on Feb. 2 when he had to alter course entering the stretch but recovered to win by 1 ¼ lengths. That was an encouraging effort, but it only netted an Equibase Speed Figure of 87, his career best by far. He boasts a solid distance pedigree as a son of well-bred Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy from a female family that includes several stakes-winning routers, but Coach Bahe would have to show a level of ability never witnessed before in his young career and also have five or six Rebel opponents run well below expectations to have a shot at hitting the board on Saturday.


Eclipse Sportswire

8. American Theorem (6-1)

Jockey: Tiago Pereira

Trainer: George Papaprodromou

Owner: Kretz Racing

Career record: 2 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $96,600

Earnings per start: $48,300

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 93

Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 4

Pedigree: American Pharoah – Mighty Renee, by Maria’s Mon

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This ridgling by 2015 Rebel Stakes and Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah makes his first start in 5 ½ months in Saturday’s Rebel – a tough assignment. He returns still carrying a lot of potential, based on an impressive debut win at the end of Del Mar’s summer meet and then a runner-up finish to Eight Rings in the American Pharoah Stakes Sept. 27 at Santa Anita Park. In that 1 1/16-mile race, he finished six lengths behind Eight Rings after pressing that pacesetter, but bested subsequent TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Storm the Court by 2 ¼ lengths. He’s been training steadily at Santa Anita leading up to his comeback on Saturday, but will have to show a new level of ability to win this race against several horses that have already made that leap so far during their 3-year-old seasons. That is not out of the question with this talented horse, but a more probable scenario has American Theorem testing the early leaders and then settling for a minor award as he gets back into racing shape, with better efforts yet to come.

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