Stakes (G3) winner Tapiture and runner-up Strong Mandate renew their
rivalry Saturday in the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) as each colt looks to
solidify their position as a leading
Kentucky Derby hopeful. The Rebel, which is slated as the 10th
of 11 live races at 6:04 p.m., drew a field of eight for the 1
1/16-mile race, the last local prep before the $1 million Arkansas Derby
April 12 and subsequent Triple Crown races.
Thoroughbreds’ homebred Tapiture ended his juvenile campaign by
breaking his maiden when winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at
Churchill by 4 ¼ lengths Nov. 30 and picked his
winning ways right back up when he made his 3-year-old debut in the
Southwest and won by the exact same margin. He tuned up for the Rebel
with an easy half-mile workout in :50 1/5 Monday and will be reunited
with regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr. With five
more weeks remaining in the meet, Santana Jr. has already won six
stakes, including four for Tapiture’s trainer Steve Asmussen.
“We’re excited about the horse he is and his chances,” Asmussen said Wednesday morning.
Baker and William Mack’s Strong Mandate will be looking to turn the
tables in the Rebel after having to fight traffic and a wide trip in the
Southwest. He too was making his seasonal
debut after closing out his 2-year-old season with a third in the
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Early in his career, he actually beat
Tapiture when breaking his maiden at Saratoga last August and then
returned one race later to win the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes.
He races for the same connections as Dublin, third in both the 2010
Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby. Jockey Joel Rosario, winner of last
year’s Derby aboard Orb, returns for the mount.
is round two and hopefully we’ll move forward,” Hall of Fame trainer D.
Wayne Lukas said. “Hopefully he’ll have a better trip than he did in
the Southwest when he was compromised.
It should be a good prep.”
to knock off the top two, while also picking up the 50 Kentucky Derby
points allotted to the winner, are two California shippers and Southwest
Stakes third-place finisher Ride On
Curlin. San Vincente Stakes (G2) winner Kobe’s Back from the barn of
John Sadler and Risen Star Stakes (G2) fourth-place finisher
Hoppertunity from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert arrived
from California Wednesday morning.
On Curlin, who won his 3-year-old debut at Oaklawn July 12 against
allowance company, picks up a new jockey in three-time Kentucky Derby
winner Kent Desormeaux. Jockey Calvin Borel,
aboard Ride On Curlin for his last two starts, has elected to ride
impressive maiden winner Street Strategy, a son of his 2007 Kentucky
Derby winning-mount Street Sense. Longshots Sheltowee’s Boy and Jet Cat
round out the field.
complete field for the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2), in post position
order, with riders: Jet Cat, John McKee; Ride on Curlin, Kent
Desormeaux; Tapiture, Ricardo Santana Jr.; Strong
Mandate, Joel Rosario; Hoppertunity, Mike Smith; Sheltowee’s Boy,
Joshua Navarro; Street Strategy, Calvin Borel, and Kobe’s Back, Jose