It’s another week on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and another hot spot for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The $1 million Rebel Stakes brings Baffert and his team back to Hot Springs, Ark., where they already own seven victories in the 1 1/16-mile stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Baffert will send out two 3-year-olds in a bid for his eighth win in the race since 2010 in a Derby prep that will earn the winner 50 qualifying points and a guaranteed spot in the run for the roses.
1. Caddo River (9-5): He certainly took to the racetrack as he romped by 10 1/4 lengths in the Smarty Jones Stakes at a mile. He was a front-running winner in the Smarty Jones and breaking from the rail here, he should be winging on the lead from the start. How much company he’ll have and how fast they will go should play a huge role in determining the outcome.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Brad Cox
2. Big Lake (12-1): Ships in from Fair Grounds off a pair of wins to make his stakes debut, so this will be an acid test. His final times are not exceptional, but his late-running style could be effective here if the pace gets too hot. He also gets trainer Steve Asmussen’s go-to rider in Ricardo Santana Jr., which bodes well for him.
JOCKEY: Ricardo Santana Jr.; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
3. Hozier (12-1): On paper he’s the “other” Baffert starter, which is not necessarily a bad thing. He made a huge jump forward in his second start when he was stretched out to two turns last time out. He has some speed, but does not look like a rabbit. He could work out a nice, stalking trip here. He’s making his stakes debut, but given the early speed of his stablemate, Concert Tour, it’s unlikely Baffert would have shipped him if he didn’t believe he fit here.
JOCKEY: Martin Garcia; TRAINER: Bob Baffert
4. Get Her Number (8-1): He showed some potential last year when he won the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes, but hasn’t raced since that Sept. 26 start. That was his lone dirt race and an impressive performance, but given his speed and freshness he figures to be part of the early pace, which could complicate matters for him.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano; TRAINER: Peter Miller
5. Twilight Blue (15-1): He was victorious in an allowance race in his last start when he was stretched out to two turns for the first time, so the distance should suit him. His final time was competitive with most of the others here but it came on a muddy track, raising questions about how he’ll fare on a dry (fast) track.
JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez Jr.; TRAINER: Joe Sharp
6. Keepmeinmind (4-1): A fast early pace will enhance his late kick, but he hasn’t raced since late November and has endured some setbacks getting ready for his 3-year-old debut. He was one of the top 2-year-olds a year ago, but he might need the race and have to settle for minor honors here.
JOCKEY: David Cohen; TRAINER: Robertino Diodoro
7. Concert Tour (2-1): Looks like Baffert’s main hope off an unbeaten record after two starts. He was a sharp winner of the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes last time out and will be tackling two turns for the first time. His stablemate, Freedom Fighter, who was second in the San Vicente, didn’t handle stretching out to a mile last weekend in the Gotham Stakes, so we’ll see how he fares here with the added ground. All in all, given his speed and connections, he should be a major player.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario; TRAINER: Bob Baffert
8. Super Stock (6-1): He’s also making his 3-year-old debut after closing out 2020 with a second in the Street Sense Stakes. He’s been no worse than third in his last five starts – four of them in stakes – but having some speed plus being fresh with the outside post could combine to work against him.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
THE PICK: Hozier
LIVE LONGSHOT: Hozier
Philip Robertson & Brenda Robertson