• La Coronel (5-1) leads them all the way in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.Posted 2 days ago
  • Rubilinda (6-5) finds the wire just in time to take the Pebbles Stakes.Posted 2 days ago
  • Engage (1-2) rolls home from last to win the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes.Posted 2 days ago
  • Bolt d'Oro is the 12-1 favorite in the current Las Vegas line for Kentucky Derby 2018.Posted 5 days ago
  • Romantic Vision (6-1) takes the sloppy Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.Posted 8 days ago
  • Unique Bella (1-5) returns with a clear victory in the L. A. Woman (G3) at Santa Anita.Posted 8 days ago
  • Flameaway (5-1) wins a three-horse photo finish in the Dixiana Bourbon (G3) at a wet Keeneland.Posted 8 days ago
  • War Flag (9-1) wins the stretch battle in Belmont's Flower Bowl (G1).Posted 8 days ago
  • Separationofpowers (9-5) impresses in the Frizette at Belmont Park.Posted 8 days ago
  • Roy H (4-5) lives up to favoritism in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.Posted 9 days ago

HRN Original Blog:
Across the Board with Mike B

Kentucky Derby 2014: Rebel Review

Hoppertunity Rebel(2) 615 X 400
Photo: Terri Cage

In handicapping, as it is in life, it often pays off to forgive and forget in the grand scheme of things. Those who were wise enough to take those words of advice were rewarded in the Rebel as Hoppertunity crossed the line first at a juicy 6/1 for those who remained loyal. In hindsight, he definitely deserved another shot. His maiden breaking score was legit, and his effort in his first start verses winners in the Risen Star was not a bad effort either. As I stated when we started this journey on the Derby Trail back in January, a lot can be learned from watching these races closely. This week’s lesson:  it is ok to be a forgiving handicapper, if there are good reasons to do so and the price is right.  

As for the race itself, I am not too sure if this will turn out to be a key race moving forward as far as the 2014 Kentucky Derby is concerned. The field does have talent, but I do worry about distance with all of them. And while that is a common question to have with all three year olds this time of year, I feel in this field, it is especially true. Let’s take a look at the major players coming out of this rough running of the Rebel, the trips they received, and what to expect in the future…


HoppertunityIn the Rebel, the eventual winner broke well, but did have to be asked to get up into position towards the front of the field. He went into the turn four wide and went on to press while in a comfortable spot three wide behind a pair of pace setters down the backstretch. Turning for home is where his trip began to get interesting. He was three wide turning for home and had a loaded Tapiture to his inside just screaming to get out. That foe gave him a few bumps trying to get clear for the run to the line, but to jockey Mike Smith’s credit, he held his spot and took the bumps in an effort to keep that rival stuck inside. That foe eventually worked his way out in the clear, but by now the tiring pace setters began to drift out causing more rubbin’ and bumpin’. To his credit, he took the rough stuff in stride and when onto a nice victory. As for what the future holds, I am not sure what I make of him. I am not too high on him, but I don’t want to write him off yet either. I do worry about how he will handle himself as the distance increases, but as of right now, I will keep him on the back burner.  

Tapiture - This colt had a pretty tough journey today. After breaking well, he went on to stalk the pace three lengths behind from the inside. Rounding the clubhouse turn, he was either rank or did not like the kickback hitting him the face. He appeared really eager most of the backstretch. Turning for home he looked full of run, but he had nowhere to go. He really had to fight to get in the clear, as Mike Smith aboard Hoppertunity, did a really nice job of keeping him inside. Once he was in the clear, the pace setting duo began to tire and drift into him and he took the worst of it by getting bothered from both sides. All in all, he did fight on for second and in my opinion was probably best today. If he and Hoppertunity had switched post positions I believe the outcome may have been reversed. As for the future though, I am not convinced more ground will help his cause. While he is one to keep our eye on, my gut says he may be better suited for races one mile or under.

Strong MandateI was really disappointed with his effort here. I thought he was going to shine today after that unbelievably wide trip in the Southwest. He received a clean trip here and I just could not find an excuse for his performance. He broke well and went onto set the pace through average fractions. He did face a bit of pressure from the inside and outside at times, but I thought he should have shown a better kick turning for home. He did get bumped in the lane, but I think he was all done at that point anyway. I believe I am off his bandwagon at this time unless he really shows something in his next start.

Kobe’s BackLike Strong Mandate, I was really disappointed with his showing. I really thought he was going to run well after that smashing win in the San Vicente. In his defense, he did have a troubled trip. He was off very slow and was about six wide into the first turn while very rank. He really never looked comfortable and never really got involved. In the spirit of forgiveness, if you wanted to give him another chance he does have excuses. If you do decide to go that route with him though, I would demand a very nice price to do so as he does appear that he may be more of a sprinter.

Ride On CurlinComing off a very wide trip and a decent third in the Southwest, I had a feeling he may show a better account of himself in the Rebel. And while he did run well I feel he is a cut below the top of the crop. I found no excuse for him today other than he has distance limitations. He had an inside journey the whole way, pressing the pace closely, but seemed to run out of gas in the lane and in the process also started all that bumping down the stretch. It’s not an ideal trip pressing from the inside, but as it turned out, it wasn’t detrimental in this case in my opinion. I believe I will pass on him as the distances of the Derby Trail increase.

As we move forward, no one from this field really impressed me all that much. Like in most cases at this point on the Derby Trail though, it is hard to toss anyone completely just yet. I believe we should keep an eye on the winner, Hoppertunity, and the runner up, Tapiture, in their next starts. But like I said, I am not that high on either. As for Strong Mandate, he would really have to wow me in his next start for me to climb back aboard his bandwagon. And in closing, and in the theme of forgiveness, Kobe’s Back did have a horrendous trip. But as previously stated, and considering the fact he may well be a sprinter, you better demand a really nice price for the risk of your kindness.  


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Older Comments about Kentucky Derby 2014: Rebel Review...

Buzz at this stage Smitty is locked in to his mounts. Hes' got Todd at FG and the Hopper at Oak. Luckily for him,the SA Derby falls on a different date,so he can pick up a mount there.I learned one thing as to how to judge jocks. Look at who they stick on and who they jump off in the top tier category. Last year Oxbow ran 2 terrible races for Stevens,yet he stayed on the horse and was rewarded. Mike Smith with Palace Malace,after a pathetic Derby effort he stayed on and was rewarded. If you see the great ones stick after sub par efforts. hey saw something in the horse. Little thing called talent. Most jocks will tell you if a horse has it or not off of a quarter mile sprint.
Although i do not think they do have much of a chance to win,i consider Top tier 1 horses ,those who have run fast races to date. Not those who won races and are competetive. In my opinion,California Chrome to date is Head and Shoulders above his rivals. The only other horses to have run fast races worthy of eing considered Elite Horses. Cairo, Samraat and Uncle Sigh. I will not put In Trouble in that grouping ,although he ran even with 2 of the horses i mentioned. The reason being that he took advantage of a super fast rail the day he ran,similar to ROC. If Chrome or any of the other 3 i mentioned do not win,then it is a crap shoot. At that stage any of the other 16 horses in the field will have as good as shot as any to win it.They are all grouped in the same category. To date and based on overall speed and dominance,Chrome and Cairo are the only 2 tier 1 horses. I do not like Cairo,has nothing to do with Breeding or lack of. I do not think he is a healthy horse. Like i said about Shared Belief and Honor Code before the long winding rehab processes. Once they start missing so much crucial time,it takes longer than 3 to 4 months to re oop. Bottom line Buds,if Chrome loses then anyone of the others can win. At that point i really could care less about who wins the race.You see ,that result will mean that i am ripping tickets. That would be my only concern.
whos mike smith going to chose??? FG or OAK
If Tapiture, Hoppertunity, Strong Mandate, Havana and Honor Code are "2nd Tier" horses which horses do you have on tier 1? I just see a similar pattern as PM from last year, always hanging around the top 3 or 4, maturing, and maybe eventually winning some races. I think Palace Malice is a better horse, but I do see some similarities. As for over running him, you and I dont agree on that idiology, you like to run and rest, I like about a race a month for an animal that can handle running 25-50 miles a day
Yes he does and that was in the wet track. If he could not run this past weekend on that track,he is in troble. The horse just never developed. But most of all,he is just not that good.
Strong mandate still has room to shine. Getting his bearings after two different races, he has a109 beyer under his belt, don't count him out.
Buds how can he be getting closer.2 back he was spanked around by the 2nd tier 3yos'. This past weekend he was fortunate enough to be on the lead on an inside biased speed track. Here he also faced the 2nd tier horses and was fading at 1/ 1/16th of a mile. It is never to late to regroup. Just have to realize what your priorities are. Push him to no end ,just to say you had a horse run in the Derby. More than likely see him finish up the track. Or let him get his stuff together and have a horse race for the next few years. I know what i would do.
I think he has plenty of stamina bred into him on both sides. His Damesire is a very good distance sire for turf horses, and we all know Curlin can get it. I think he is progressing nicely, just like his brother PM did, most on this site didn’t like Palace Malice this time last year as well. TM may be right as far as the horse may be getting tired, but its too late to give him a break now. It does seem to me as the races are getting longer, Ride on Curlin is getting closer!
Mark i agree with some of the things you say,although it is deeper than that.The female family in the Pedigree is important. What i look at is over all ability and speed. My reason for tossing him and many others is that they are simply not good enough or fast enough to compete at the highest level. ROC has been over raced . They are not giving this guy a breather at all, i do not know if has qualified for the Derby yet. But he has had so many races to date,he has not run a race that is within 5 lengths of the fastest horses. When will the alarm clock go off in th econnections minds and realize this. Allow the horse a bit of relief and let him get his legs under him. Can he win the Derby,of course he can.After Mine That Birds surprise,i guess anything is possible. But is it probabble,not by a longshot. He finished 3rd the other day in the Rebel. Well there were only 3 horses in the race ,if not for the super rail which Desormeaux took great advantage of,he'd a been 4th.Exactly where he should of finished. How many times will they go to the well. Allow the horse to win and gain some confidence,nothing wrong with backing it down a notch. He is a game animal who gives it his all everytime out. He is not one of those lazy colts. But sometimes that is the worst kind,their competetive spirit forces them to overextend and try harder. They over exert energy,not a good prescription.
i think its hilarious folks thing ride on curlin has distance isssues hmmmmm curlin i beleive he was 3rd in the derby 2nd in the belmont and won the classic arent all three of them distance races lmao
tv, Kobe's Back being disinterested? Maybe he didn't like the sloppy conditions.
on a Derby trophy
Damn, I don't want to see that silly name on a Derby. Of course bragging rights to those who had him in the Rebel. At least it's not Hoppymeister.
Of course you don't see the stamina in Hoppertunity. You can't even spell his name correctly. LOL
Kobe's Back WAS rank and disinterested. Strong Mandate shouldnt even go to the Derby, he has dominated nothing. He won the Hopeful back in September! The only horse I see out of this group making a run for the roses was Tapiture. I dont see the stamina in Hopportunity to make 10 furlongs
Kobe's Back looked rank and disinterested
In the spirit of forgiveness, I am willing to give Kobe's Back one more chance. If he can get a good break and calm, I think he could be a 2 turn horse
Tapiture showed his tenacity and seems that he is moving in the right direction. Although Strong Mandate's 4th place finish was disappointing still on my derby list. Really had no excuse with the position and stretch run. He reminds me of Oxbow and I am hoping that he's following Lukas' typical prep of keep running them to get fit for the big one. We'll see how that goes.
BASEC ON ONE RACE? Think about the dozens that have stubbed their toe on the way to the big dance: Alfleet Alex, Unbridled, Secretariat....the list is LONG and stellar. Sample error at its WORST!
i think mandate has a shot,but i do think roc is not greade1. but still has good si. will see what he does next out.

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 Meet Michael Barry   


 It all started 5 years ago for me after a spur of the moment trip to Saratoga Springs with my future wife.  I had always bet on the Triple Crown races, and made a few trips to Suffolk Downs annually, but not until that journey to The Spa did things get serious for me.  I fell in love with horse racing right then and there and I haven’t looked back since.  The following year I read every handicapping book I could get my hands on.  I became, and still am, a very passionate student of the game. 


Through this blog I hope to take you guys through my favorite aspect of the game, which is breaking down races and doping out winners.  I focus my attention between the NYRA circuit (mostly), Gulfstream Park, and Keeneland.  I also plan to provide very thorough coverage leading up to the Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup.  I love analyzing the prep races leading up to both of those grand events. 


Wagering wise, I love playing pick 4’s and 5’s, and I have enjoyed some success in the past playing those types of exotics.  In any given race, I try to attack based on strength of opinion and value.  That may be in the form of an exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, pick 3, or by laddering my choice across the board.  Every race is its own animal and must be played accordingly.


Personally, I am a graduate of Boston University and reside on the South Shore of Massachusetts with my beautiful wife Tara and wonderful son Finn.  I work as a technician for a communications company by day. 


I can be found on Twitter @mbarry24 and I’m always up to discuss anything horse racing related.

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