This Saturday, Oaklawn Park plays host to this weekend lone 3yo Derby test in the GII “Rebel Stakes” , going 1 1/16 mile, for a purse of $300,000.
This is their 2nd of 3 big derby tests run every year at Oaklawn Park and in year’s gone by this race has produced winners like Smarty Jones, Curlin, Win Willy and last year Lookin at Lucky have all won this early Derby test.
So this race and Oaklawn Park has drawn some of the top 3yo talent in the country to prep here for a date at Churchill Downs every first Saturday of May!
So the 3yo class of 2011 for this contest is a Preakness sized field of 13 hopefuls looking to snag a piece of that $300,000 pot and take one step closer to a Derby date in early May!
The favorite for this Saturday’s tilt is one of two California shippers in The Factor at odds of 2/1 on the morning line! This 3yo son of War Front has been stealing all the 3yo headlines out at Santa Anita this winter. First he broke the track record for 6f on opening day there then beat Sway Away and Premier Pegasus in the GII San Vicente last month going that 7f tilt in 1:20 1/5. So he has got big speed in early factions but can he go the 2-turns, rate and be a real derby contender? This is what his connections are looking to find out here on Saturday! He will set the pace here Saturday but the best we think you can hope for is a 3rd or 4th spot here. This isn’t that hot Santa Anita main track either!
Sway Away at 5/2 is the other SO/Cal shipper in this contest with a pair of 2nd’s in his last 2 outings to J.P.s Gusto in the GII Best Pal and 2nd to The Factor as stated above but he too is trying 2-turns for the first time and this again isn’t that quick Santa Anita surface. He too has to rate here to be part of the stretch action or start thinking in terms of a sprinting career.
Both favorites here have much to prove Saturday and now is the time if they want to be in Louisville in early May!
Archarcharch at 8/1, J. P.’s Gusto at 5/1, Elite Alex at 8/1, Picko’s Pride at 20/1 and Caleb’s Posse at 20/1 were the 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6th respective finishers from last month’s GIII Southwest Stakes here in Oaklawn’s first derby prep race. All 5, have returned to take another bit at the Derby apple.
Archarcharch, son of Arch, had as good a trip around the Oaklawn main track as it gets last month but the 1:38 and 1/5 for the mile covered that day isn’t going to set the world on fire. So all 5 of these Derby want-to-be’s will have to step up their games. We think Archarcharch, Elite Alex and J.P.’s Gusto have the best shot of these 5 to be there at the end.
At 12/1 is Alternation, son of Distorted Humor and a Seattle Slew mare has 3 straight wins at a mile or more, beating Elite Alex and Dreaminofthewin a 30/1 shot in this contest in his last 2 alw tests here. So he got the pedigree, experience at the distance at a track he can win at. Sounds like a good “Dark Horse” pick to us and 12/1 somewhere in your exotic’s feel’s just about right to us too!
The rest of this 2011 field for this GII Rebel Stakes are Dreaminofthewin at 30/1 sporting a pair of recent alw 2nd’s here, Saratoga Red at 30/1 with just a sloppy track, mile, maiden win here last month, 20/1 Glint with a pair of 6f stakes board hits will try two turns here Saturday, at 30/1 are J.W. Blue an alw winner here on Jan 29th beating Bluegrass Jam that day who has 3 of 4 board hits to his resume coming into this contest!
So this old handicapper is suspect of the 2 So/Cal hot spots here as they have no 2-turn experience over this strip, have yet to show an ability to rate as they have run full tilt at Santa Anita’s speed favoring main track this year! We’d use them in super’s only!
The real possibilities are J.P’s Gusto, Archarcharch, Elite Alex and Alternation to us! So maybe box up these four in your favorite exotic and through in that So/Cal pair into your super’s thoughts somewhere!
We expect hot early factions of 23, 46, 1:10 or 11 then a complete pace collapse by the mile pole where the closers will swarm in!
So you do have good value here in this race and if everyone chases these hot factions some of these good old boys at 20 and 30/1 could light up this Oaklawn board with big prices “ala” the Tampa Bay Derby last weekend!
Hey they are all 3yo’s that can grow up fast and it is the season for it too!
Stay tuned folks, this one should be fun!