Expert picks: Rebel Stakes 2019 predictions, longshots

Split into a pair of Grade 2, $750,000 divisions, Oaklawn Park's Rebel Stakes will prove twice as nice Saturday for connections hoping to punch their tickets to the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Race 8, set for 5:57 p.m. ET, consists of a field of nine led by unbeaten Grade 1 winner Improbable. Race 10, at 7:06 p.m. ET, includes the reigning champion Game Winner. Both Bob Baffert-trained colts are making their respective season debuts.

RELATED: Free Rebel Stakes past performances


Given that, we tasked Horse Racing Nation contributors with providing picks for both flights. And we'll start at the top.

Rebel Stakes Division 1



Candice Curtis (@skipaway2000)

Division 1 win pick: #1 Extra Hope
Division 1 live longshot: #6 Ninth Street

Comments: I'm looking for a pace collapse here similar to the last two weekends' Derby preps. Improbable should be keen in his first start back in four months. Classy John, Galilean, Long Range Toddy -- all these pace horses will be gunning for it early, as it is the only way they can beat Improbable. I have Extra Hope on top, as he's the class of the mid-pack runners and has "money" Mike Smith in the irons. Ninth Street is the only late runner in the race, and if it truly melts down up front, he will grab a piece of the trifecta.

Jarrod Horak, Pick 6 Blog

Division 1 win pick: #8 Galilean
Division 1 live longshot: #1 Extra Hope

My tickets: #8 to win; exacta 8/1-9; exacta 1-9/8; trifecta 1-8/1-8-9/1-8-9

Casey Laughter, The Tattooed Tracksider

Division 1 win pick: #9 Improbable
Division 1 live longshot: #8 Galilean

Comments:Improbable is unbeaten in his career, and he should stay that way in his fourth start at as many tracks. He ships well and looks stellar.

Reinier Macatangay, Setting the Pace

Division 1 win pick: #9 Improbable
Division 1 live longshot: #1 Extra Hope

Comments: Improbable, Extra Hope and Galilean are usable in horizontal wagers. Otherwise, this race might be one to skip.

Olivia Newman, @barbaroloverrrThe Final Stride

Division 1 win pick: #9 Improbable
Division 1 live longshot: #2 Long Range Toddy

Comments: Improbable is clearly the best horse in this field, and I think he got off a little easier than Game Winner did with the split. Nonetheless, it will still be a test especially coming off a long layoff, but he hasn't missed a beat training, and I look for a big effort. I think Long Range Toddy will appreciate longer distances. He came on late in the Southwest after having to check. If he can stay out of traffic and let the front runners set a hot pace, he could swoop in late. He also has a home track advantage. Extra Hope is coming off a confidence-boosting allowance win and flying a bit under the radar. Galilean rounds out my Top 4.

Christine Oser (@cb_oser)

Division 1 win pick: #9 Improbable
Division 1 live longshot: #1 Extra Hope

Comments: Improbable leads the way off his five-length win around two turns in the Los Al Futurity and looks tough to beat here. Galilean also appears to be a force after handling Cal-bred stakes company with ease. Extra Hope is intriguing having finished third in the Los Al Futurity and enters off a Jan. 31 win in the slop at Sana Anita. The other two have the eye-catching performances, but this is spot for Extra Hope to show where he belongs.

Rebel Stakes Division 2



Candice Curtis (@skipaway2000)

Division 2 win pick: #5 Game Winner
Division 2 live longshot: #2 Laughing Fox

Comments: I see Game Winner comfortably off the solid pace, and under regular rider Joel Rosario, he should get a dream trip. He'll make his run on the final turn and draw off with style. Laughing Fox is a local runner with two wins at the distance over the Oaklawn surface who'll like the fast pace as well. He'll be running late.

Jarrod Horak, Pick 6 Blog

Division 2 win pick: #2 Laughing Fox
Division 2 live longshot: #8 Gunmetal Gray

My tickets: #2 to win; exacta 2/5-6-8; exacta 5-6-8/2; trifecta 2-5-6/2-5-6/8

Casey Laughter, The Tattooed Tracksider

Division 2 win pick: #5 Game Winner
Division 2 live longshot: #6 Omaha Beach

Comments: Game Winner looks like a professional workman in his breezes, and while the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner doesn't need to win first time back, he is the class of the field here.

Reinier Macatangay, Setting the Pace

Division 2 win pick: #2 Laughing Fox
Division 2 live longshot: #8 Gunmetal Gray

My bets: Win/olace on Laughing Fox or use as a trifecta wheel key.
Division 2 win pick: #5 Game Winner
Division 2 live longshot: #2 Laughing Fox

Comments: Game Winner is much the best in this field. He exudes class, and heart that will carry him. I think Omaha Beach is sitting on a good race coming off a recent maiden win, though he will really have to step up to show he belongs. With him and Extra Hope, trainer Richard Mandella is coming in with two solid chances this weekend. Omaha Beach had a recent sizzling six furlong work. He is cranked and ready to go. Gunmetal Gray might get the ideal trip and lay off the leaders to pounce at the end. As a longshot, I think Laughing Fox is improving with every race, he’s versatile, and has tactical speed.

Christine Oser (@cb_oser)

Division 2 win pick: #5Game Winner
Division 2 live longshot: #7 Our Braintrust

Comments: Game Winner is clearly the one to beat, but he'll have to reproduce his championship form off a four-month layoff. Our Braintrust has been hitting the board in tough company. Added blinkers might help him finish stronger now that he has a two-turn race under him for his new connections.

 

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