2024 Kentucky Derby Prospect Profiles: Rebel Stakes Winner Timberlake

Timberlake Rebel Stakes Oaklawn Park Brad Cox Cristian Torres WinStar Siena colt Kentucky Derby prep Florent Geroux Into Mischief pedigree horse racing
Timberlake and jockey Cristian Torres parade in the Oaklawn Park winner’s circle after taking the Rebel Stakes Feb. 24. The colt vaulted to the top of the 2024 Kentucky Derby points leaderboard with the victory. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Welcome to 2024 Kentucky Derby Prospect Profiles, where we’ll take a look each week at a recent winner on the Triple Crown trail, usually from the Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule that offers qualifying points for the first leg of the series. The 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be held May 4, 2024, at Churchill Downs.

This week, we’ll take a closer look at Timberlake, the two-length winner of the $1.25 million Rebel Stakes on Feb. 24 at Oaklawn Park. The Into Mischief colt earned 50 points toward qualifying for the 2024 Kentucky Derby with that win and moved into first place on the latest Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 66 points in total.


Bay Colt

Sire (father): Into Mischief

Dam (mother): Pin Up, by Lookin At Lucky

Owners: WinStar Farm and Siena Farm

Breeder: St. Elias Stables (Ky.) 

Trainer: Brad Cox

Racing Résumé: Timberlake improved to three wins in six starts and has competed in elite stakes competition within his division for four straight races, the first three in Grade 1s and the most recent in a Grade 2 race with a $1.25 million purse. He finished second in the Hopeful Stakes going seven-eighths of a mile at Saratoga Race Course last September before winning the one-turn-mile Champagne Stakes by 4 ½ lengths on a sloppy track at Aqueduct. He rallied to finish a distant fourth in his first try around two turns in the 2023 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park, which left a distance question to be answered in his 3-year-old debut.

Timberlake responded admirably in his first race in 16 weeks by powering clear in the stretch to win as the 4-5 favorite, increasing his margin from a length to two lengths with a final sixteenth of a mile in a sprightly 6.09 seconds. He covered his final five-sixteenths of a mile in approximately :30.74 under jockey Cristian Torres, so Timberlake was moving very well late after he was within a length and a half of an opening half-mile in :47.67 at Oaklawn.

“I thought he ran a big race. He was a little wide around the far turn. Looked like he may have been getting a touch tired late, but overall it was a great run off the layoff,” winning trainer Brad Cox said. “Cristian did a great job of getting him in a good position. He was able to get him to relax and finish up well.”

Speed Figures: Timberlake has posted the same 93 Beyer Speed Figure in each of his last three races and he came within a point in the Rebel Stakes of equaling his career-best Equibase Speed Figure, which is a 106 for his Champagne Stakes win. The fact that he matched or nearly matched his best speed figures off the long layoff is a very good sign. If he can take a step forward in his next start, he should be right there with the fastest of the 3-year-old division, but he does need to improve.

Running Style: Timberlake earned his first career win leading from start to finish in a sprint last July at Ellis Park. He has some early speed but has settled in as a stalker-closer capable of racing within a few lengths of the lead and finishing well. In fact, Elliott Walden, president of co-owner WinStar Farm, noted that a big takeaway from the Rebel was that Timberlake relaxed more in the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile race.

“Really pleased with how he’s matured,” said Walden, a former trainer. “He was always a little keen last year. He had a good spot. He settled today, which is nice to see.”

Winner’s circle celebration. (Coady Photography)

Connections: Timberlake is co-owned by Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm and Anthony Manganaro’s Siena Farm. WinStar Farm is one of the largest commercial breeding-racing operations in the United States, winning the Eclipse Award as outstanding owner in 2010 and outstanding breeder in 2016 and 2020. WinStar bred 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, won the Kentucky Derby as an owner in 2010 with Super Saver, and was a part-owner of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify. Siena Farm was a co-owner of 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline and also raced Grade 1 winner Angela Renee.

Trainer Brad Cox won the Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer in 2020 and 2021 and led all trainers in North America by purse earnings in 2023 with $30,947,677. He has won seven of the last 15 Kentucky Derby qualifying races at Oaklawn Park, including the Arkansas Derby in 2022 and 2023. Cox won the 2021 Kentucky Derby with Mandaloun following the disqualification of Medina Spirit and also won the 2021 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets with Essential Quality.

Cristian Torres was aboard Timberlake for the first time in the Rebel Stakes after Florent Geroux had been his jockey for his five previous starts. Torres, who took out his jockey’s license in 2019, more than tripled his previous best in purse earnings in 2023 to $13,716,700 while picking up his first graded stakes win with Last Samurai in the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn. Geroux, who rode for Cox in Saudi Arabia Feb. 24, has teamed with the trainer for many significant stakes wins, including the 2021 Derby with Mandaloun, two editions of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Monomoy Girl, and last year’s Distaff with Idiomatic.

Pedigree Notes: Timberlake’s sire, Into Mischief, is the best in the business right now. He was the leading general sire in North America for the fifth straight year in 2023 and has had an impressive list of standouts on the racetrack like 2020 Horse of the Year Authentic. Into Mischief imparts speed to his progeny but also in many cases the ability to carry it a distance of ground with two-turn Grade 1 winners such as champions Pretty Mischievous and Wonder Wheel along with standouts such as Life Is Good, Mandaloun, Audible, Goldencents, and Atone to name a few.

Timberlake’s dam (mother), Pin Up, by 2010 Preakness Stakes winner Lookin At Lucky, was a winner and stakes-placed at 1 ¾ miles on the grass in England. Her two wins came at 1 ½ miles and 1 ¾ miles, so Timberlake should get stamina from her. The family has also produced multiple top-class runners in Europe, including Irish classic winner Yesterday, runner-up in the 2003 Epsom Oaks; and Group 1 winner Quarter Moon, runner-up in the 2002 Epsom Oaks.

Derby Potential: Timberlake’s season debut offered plenty of reason for promise. On my first watch, I was a bit disappointed he did not overwhelm what I viewed as a lackluster group in the Rebel stretch, but he did win comfortably and finish fast while earning quality speed figures that he should be able to improve upon in his second start of the year. He’s got class and stamina in his pedigree and Timberlake is in quality hands with Brad Cox. After taking some time to digest his Rebel win, Timberlake came out firing off the extended layoff and warrants respect as a serious Kentucky Derby contender.

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