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Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: A Golden Hoppertunity

Hoppertunity made the most of his Kentucky Derby 2014 prep opportunity in a rough renewal of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Hoppertunity and Tapiture were doing their best impression of “the bump”, and there was no change to the original order of finish despite an inquiry and objection.

Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity, unraced as a juvenile, came into the Rebel off a rallying 4th in the Risen Star, but new pilot Mike Smith had him much closer to the pace this time. Baffert owns Oaklawn Derby preps and the Rebel was no exception. Hoppertunity’s sire, Any Given Saturday, was my Derby horse in 2007.

Tapiture had a perfect trip in the Southwest but took the worst of it in the Rebel. He was rank and unhappy with mud in his face along the inside and behind horses. He bullied his way into contention and ended up a fine 2nd.

Ride On Curlin mixed it up on the front end with Strong Mandate and outfinished the latter for the show. The average fractions allowed Ride On Curlin to hang in there.

I was expecting Strong Mandate to rate and finish, but Rosario had him up close due to moderate fractions. I wish he would have gone on with it like California Chrome did in the San Felipe. The modest pace kept the top four bunched up from start to finish. He remains on my list but drops a few spots.

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