2013 Rebel Stakes: Welcome to Baffert Springs

March 15, 2013 03:20am
 The last time I covered this same topic was in the days leading up to the 2013 Southwest Stakes. In order to dig into what else was at stake besides the Kentucky Derby qualification points you had to mention Bob Baffert and a particular winning streak. At that time the only way I could lead off was by reminding everyone that the hall of fame trainer was returning to the track that he absolutely torched in the 2012 Kentucky Derby prep season. What happened next was another remarkable accomplishment for the Hall of Fame trainer.
This time it was Super Ninety Nine who took the lead and made it clear that Baffert had picked up in the 2013 season from the same exact spot where he left off in 2012; first place. The vibrant 11 length win over a sloppy track at Oaklawn kept the streak alive and extended it to five consecutive Kentucky Derby Preps that Baffert had claimed from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Wow. 
So here we are for the 2013 Rebel Stakes. Bob Baffert is back again and with him comes two Kentucky Derby contenders that could stretch the streak to six. But, before we dissect the chances of Super Ninety Nine and Den’s Legacy let’s rewind to look at how extraordinary this run has become.
As you recall, the 2012 Southwest Stakes was split into two separate races in order to accommodate the 21 entries. As luck would have it, Baffert’s two horses did not have to face each other which gave him the unlikely chance of winning them both. But, after all was said and done, he and jockey Rafael Bejarano made it appear so easy. Secret Circle and Castaway were the winners and the streak began.
The team was back in the Rebel Stakes. After Secret Circle won again the stars were aligned for an unprecedented sweep as long as Baffert returned for the G1 Arkansas Derby. And he did, except this time he was with a different derby contender. He brought a horse from California that had all the talent in world but maybe not enough experience to seal the deal. The questions only loomed until Bodemeister broke from the gate and took the lead. From there, it was all but over as the gifted colt never yielded. The streak continued and Bob Baffert had just completed one of the most unbelievable Kentucky Derby prep seasons from one single track that I have ever seen.
When the field was announced for the 2013 Southwest Stakes I was delighted to see that Baffert would be returning for the first of three Kentucky Derby preps from Oaklawn in this year’s new qualification prep season. Super Ninety Nine gave him a very solid chance but I was not able to decide if he could carry the torch. Although Baffert wasn’t even there and S99 was the lone entry going for him, it didn’t matter. Super Ninety Nine was nothing short of super and his wire to wire victory kept the winning streak alive.
But, while we’re on the topic of streaks and this is the Rebel Stakes, now would be a good time to mention just one other streak that Bob Baffert has going; his fourth consecutive win in the Rebel. This one started with Lookin at Lucky in 2010, followed by The Factor and Secret Circle. The three-peat was quite an achievement. Plus, both streaks being active at the same time is even more outstanding. However, does anyone else think that the challenge has met its match in this year’s Rebel?
One thing that catches your attention right away when looking at Baffert’s chances is that his go to jockey for Kentucky Derby preps at Oaklawn is back in the saddle. Rafael Bejarano is just as much a part of the current winning streak as anyone else. Well, almost. With the exception of Bodemeister (Mike Smith) Bejarano was aboard for all of the victories in the 2012 season as well as the Southwest Stakes this year. He now returns for the mount on Super Ninety Nine. Together this trio has been too tough to outmatch but the situation in the 2013 Rebel presents a golden opportunity.
In this field of 11 Baffert actually caught a tough break at Oaklawn when Super Ninety Nine drew the far outside post position. However, if you ask Baffert he might just tell you that it’s nothing new. What’s funny is that if he did tell you that, he wouldn’t be lying. In last year's Arkansas Derby Bodemeister started from that exact same post position. So, based on their similar styles of racing, if Super Ninety Nine can get away fast and clean he could very easily end up right where he wants to be; on the lead.
Even though the post position may not be the toughest obstacle for Baffert, I still believe that there is another big one that will make this his hardest victory to score. It's actually the first thing that stands out to me when looking at this field. There appears to be a horse or two that are going to challenge Super Ninety Nine for the lead.
The first that likes to push the pace is Delhomme, trained by Tood Pletcher and Title Contender is another. This is based solely on their previous races and most recent so if that’s where they go, it looks like it could become a fluid pace with lightening fast fractions. If that’s the case then I have two questions.
Will Super Ninety Nine and Bejarano allow them to lead the field? If so, can Super Ninety Nine find a good position close to the front and hold off a late run down the stretch? The mid pack or close stalkers that present the biggest threat in my opinion are Treasury Bill and Oxbow,who is trained by D. Wayne Lukas and is very familiar with the track here at Oaklawn. Both horses have already raced against fields on this same level so I can’t assume that they won’t be up for the challenge on Saturday.
As for the remainder of the field, a sleeper horse that catches my attention is Carve, trained by Steve Assmussen and ridden by Corey Nakatani. It will be his graded stakes debut so I can’t make a bold statement on his chances based on his racing so far but he could still manage to make a move in the Rebel.
So, I believe this field presents a challenge for Bob Baffert and his attempt at owning yet another Kentucky Derby prep at Oaklawn. But then again, I still think both streaks can be summed up as: Unbelievable. His latest installment was thrilling so maybe it was either a fitting close to a good streak or just another edition. Which brings me to my final question. All good things do come to end from time to time but will Baffert’s dominance in Hot Springs end at the 2013 Rebel Stakes? 
I can't decide because I see it both ways, how about you? 


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Older Comments about 2013 Rebel Stakes: Welcome to Baffert Springs ...

Exertion gets to be more a factor the longer into the race the field goes....A unit of energy lost early (behind the pace) takes two units of late energy to make up
Thanks for the observation that is logical at this distance.
The first six horses in this race at the 2nd call should be among the first four finishers.
Energy distribution bias is built into the track surface, the drainage and cushion...It takes active effort by the track crew to even begin to alter it.
at shorter route differences, there is no guarantee that the speed will not just run away with the contests as they often do. Why is there this common belief that fast early means closers will win? It just does not happen to the extent people believe it occuring.
I'm hoping for the 1A, 9, 4, 10 set some very fast faction which should setup for the Presser and deep closer. I know OP has been bias E and E/P but hoping for a change. This has been a balance week of bias at OP with the S being a bit lower.
Treasury Bill should be sitting a good trip, no worse than 5th.
I'm going with a long shot tri - 1,2, 9 - Treasury Bill, Carve, Oxbow. Also 1, 2, 10 switch Oxbow with S99.
S99, Treasury Bill, Dens Legacy
Baffert will win it alright, but not with Super Ninety Nine, and at odds of 10-1, or better.
baffert can be beat u will see to much hipe
I think that the fractions will be scorching and Treasury Bill will have a chance to be a probable Derby runner.
Den's Legacy has a good record(consistent), but, this will mark the 1st time outside of California. Question is, can he ship?
Oxobw and Treasury Bill with longshot Carve. Super99 will be a very short price.
One interesting move in this race is Gomez from Den's Legacy to the first time starter at 3 YO- Delhomme. The long lay-off worries me (Overanalyze), but not now!!
Black type in the pedigree does not have to come via a win: participate at the top and impress that way a la a Hard Spun, the bridesmaid, Alydar the bridesmaid.
Yeah, consistently not good enough... i could see him finishing 3rd or 4th.. no better.
sounds like the consistent sort most would love to own.
Den's Legacy has had an interesting road to 10 KyDerby points: 3rd in CashCall, 2nd in Sham, 2nd in Robert B. Lewis. Another top three finish is going to keep on the slow road to the KyDerby but does anyone think he's flying under the radar? Or will the Rebel be his first time finishing outside the top 3?
Late colts just have a very very hard time winning at 8.5 at Oaklawn.

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer  


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State, I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. It was there that my attraction to the Sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance, and the tradition continues annually because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, Ky., on Derby Day.

Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champion's trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. It begins when 2-year-olds hit the track & continues until the field is set, the picks are in, and the roses are awarded. 

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