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Breeders Cup 2015
2017 Queen's Plate

HRN Original Blog:
Pedigree Power

Royal Mo Looking for a Triple in Rebel Stakes


Over the last sixteen years, the Rebel Stakes has produced a roll call of elite stars that figure prominently in the Triple Crown events.  Fans at Oaklawn have seen the likes of American Pharoah, Smarty Jones, Curlin, Afleet Alex, Lookin at Lucky, Oxbow and Creator compete in the 1 1/16 mile Grade 2 event.  Steppenwolfer and Ride on Curlin, placed in the Rebel, plus the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, respectively. 

 

A field of eleven 2017 Kentucky Derby contenders are primed to contest the Rebel Stakes, The winner will earn 50 points towards a reservation in the Derby starting gate.

 

Oh say, can you see…

We all know that Bob Baffert ships his best Derby hopefuls to Oaklawn. Since Baffert started this practice, he’s won six of the last seven editions of the Rebel. The one time his horse didn’t win, he placed third. 

 

This year, Baffert’s hopes lie with American Anthem (Bodemeister - Indy's Windy, by A.P. Indy). Is American Anthem good enough to give Baffert his fourth consecutive Rebel Stakes trophy? As much as I like this horse, I’ll say not this time.

 

In January, American Anthem gave Grade 1 Stakes hero Gormley all he could handle in the Sham Stakes. Gormley’s experience earned him the victory by a short nose.  The Grade 3 contest was essentially a one mile match race over an uncharacteristically muddy track at Santa Anita. In in the San Felipe Stakes last week, Gormely could manage no better than a tired, distant fourth place against the tragically brilliant Mastery.

 

Warning signs for the Rebel favorite? I wonder how much the fight with Gormley took out of American Anthem.

 

Additionally, American Anthem is making his third career start in the Rebel. His speed figure (Bris) jumped eight points from his maiden win to the Sham Stakes. Yes, American Anthem has two sharp works, but his final breeze with Mor Spirit was just so-so, and he was under pressure to stay with Mor Spirit past the wire.

 

I love American Anthem’s pedigree, but his late pace speed figures hit a sour note and there are too many warning signs that he may regress. Read American Anthem’s pedigree profile.

 

Eeny Meeny Miny…

Royal Mo (Uncle Mo - Royal Irish Lass, by Saint Ballado) ruled his competition in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) in February, beating Grade 1 placed Irap by a widening 3 ½ lengths. There’s a lot of speed in the Rebel. So, will Victor Espinoza employ the same tactics in the Rebel against cheap speed or try to rate? Royal Mo gets better with each start and he could be the one to beat.

 

Untrapped (Trappe Shot - Exit Three, by Giant's Causeway) was second in the LeComte and Risen Star at the Fair Grounds. His speed figures have improved with each start and he owns the highest late pace speed figure in the field. Steve Asmussen gives the colt a jockey upgrade to Irad Ortiz, Jr., plus the change of scenery could result in victory.

 

Petrov (Flatter - Saracina, by Bertrando) was beaten like a roan headed stepchild, first by Uncontested in the Smarty Jones and then by One Liner in the Southwest. Ron Moquett’s charge likes to stalk the pace, but is developing a bad case of second-itis. Petrov’s speed figures are improving with every start and he tries hard.

  

Speed Traps

Malagacy (Shackleford - Classiest Gem, by Dehere) is the East Coast answer to Mastery, at least, so far.  The Todd Pletcher trainee has demolished his competition by a combined 22 lengths sprinting over the speed-favoring Gulfstream surface.  Malagacy has three things to overcome; shipping, trying two turns and a class upgrade. If Malagacy wants to play the speed game, he’ll have plenty of company. Plus, Todd Pletcher has sent contenders to Oaklawn in the past and has yet to have his picture taken in the winner’s circle. 

 

Uncontested (Tiz Wonderful - Galileo's Star, by Lil E. Tee) eagerly threw down fast early fractions in the Southwest Stakes while Channing Hill had his feet on the dashboard. By mid-stretch, Uncontested felt the draft as Petrov and One Liner blew by. Uncontested staggered across the finish a dozen lengths back. Despite being on the lead Uncontested just doesn’t relax. This plays against him in the long run. Save him for sprinting. 


Grumpy Old Men

Silver Bullion (Pioneerof the Nile - Love Buzz, by Silver Charm) regressed slightly in his first start against winners last time out. He has a later maturing pedigree and his first three dams are all stakes winners, so the promise is there. He hasn’t done anything wrong, but Silver Bullion hasn’t shown the speed to be competitive here. But wait, guess who trains him? That sneaky old fox Wayne Lukas. Silver Bullion could turn to gold if he pulls it off.

 

Appalachian Gem (Gemologist - Briar Hill Dixie, by Dixieland Band) was a determined winner in his first try around two turns, and he has the pedigree to improve with maturity and some distance. Not much class in Appalachian Gem’s first two generations, but his third dam won the Marion Van Berg Memorial Hcp. Guess who trains Appalachian Gem? Jack Van Burg. And when was the last time you saw Gary Stevens on a 30-1 shot? Call me nostalgic, but I’m rootin’ for the old timers.

 

Bringing up the rear...

Lookin At Lee  (Lookin At Lucky - Langara Lass, by Langfuhr) is one of those horses who make a furious rush from the back of the pack, but unlike Zenyatta or Victory Gallop, Lee never gets there in time. He might have won a few of those starts if he wasn’t so far back. Lookin At Lee’s two victories were obtained when the colt sat much closer to the pace. He appears to have the speed to do so, since he won at six furlongs in 1:10. Maybe Ricardo Santana, Jr. needs to set the alarm clock for earlier in the race.

 

Sonneteer (Midnight Lute - Ours, by Half Ours) is a career maiden. But don’t be so quick to dismiss him. Sonneteer’s unraced dam is a half-sister to Hopeful (G1) winner Dublin. Sonneteer owns the second highest late pace speed figure in the field and his one-run style plays against him on the California tracks. Could he be a live longshot or is he this year’s Laoban?

 

Silver Dust (Tapit - Filare l'Oro, by Hard Spun) ate a lot of dust in the Southwest. He spent most of his time in traffic and passed tired horses to get a minor award a dozen lengths behind One Liner. Maybe he shook some of the dust off in his first 3YO start, but I think he’ll run into some dust busters here. He could step up for a minor award with an easier trip. Silver Dust’s dam won the 1 1/8 mile Virginia Oaks over the lawn and she’s a half-sister to the hard-knocking veteran handicap horse Gouldings Green. Perhaps a surface change will bring out the shine for Silver Dust.

 

Final Thoughts

In the last ten editions of the Rebel Stakes, four winners led the field on a merry chase. Two pressed the pace, while three sat mid-pack early before making their moves. Only one was a closer.

 

SELECTIONS:

#10 ROYAL MO (9-2)
#7 AMERICAN ANTHEM (2-1)
#4 PETROV (9-2)
#5 UNTRAPPED (8-1)

 

                                                         

                                      

 

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Meet Laurie Ross
 



   

I've been around horses for most of my life, working in racing stables as a hot walker and exercise rider in my teenage years, and later as a volunteer with rescued and retired racehorses. I became interested in pedigree when the sons and daughters of my favorite horses started their racing careers.   

 

For more than a decade, I've passionately studied pedigree, how it applies to handicapping and breeding theories. In 2010, I joined Horse Racing Nation as their Pedigree Analyst, focusing on juvenile stakes winners, Triple Crown contenders and first crop sires from a handicapping perspective.   

 

In 2011, I accepted the role of South Florida Coordinator and Advisory Board Member for the national non-profit Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan). Working closely with Gulfstream Park management and other race fans, we created a ThoroFan Chapter at Gulfstream Race Track. Our main project is assisting Thoroughbred rescue and re-training groups.

 

I continue to maintain my website Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds and blog of the same name. As a pedigree consultant, I specialize in assisting small to mid-size breeding/training operations with broodmare breeding reports, sales catalog analysis and recommendations on claims and private sales. 10 - 20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue and retraining groups.
 
I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic please contact me at lross@horseracingnation.com.
 
 

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