Kentucky Derby 2018 trail: Rebel Stakes odds and analysis

March 14, 2018 02:52pm


Trainer Bob Baffert will be trying for his seventh win in the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes on Saturday when he sends out the likely favorite, Solomini, to face 10 rivals at Oaklawn Park. Baffert and owner Zayat Stables will try and repeat the success that they had in 2015, when Triple Crown winner American Pharoah began his 3-year-old campaign in this Oaklawn Park race.

It is worth noting that Solomini will be running for the first time in the joint ownership of Coolmore’s Magnier, Tabor, and Smith along with Zayat Stables. American Pharoah currently resides at Coolmore America’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

The Rebel, which is run at a distance of a mile and a sixteenth, carries a awards 85 qualifying points [50-20-10-5] toward the
 2018 Kentucky Derby.

Since 2000, the Rebel has produced two Kentucky Derby winners, five 3-year-old champions and two Horse of the Years. Rebel participants have an overall record of 50: 3-2-3 in the Run for the Roses.

The Rebel will go as Race 10, with post time scheduled for 6:09 p.m. ET. Here are the Rebel runners with early odds from Horse Racing Nation:

 Title Ready
 [ML – 15-1 – More Than Ready – Asmussen/Jose Ortiz – 5: 2-1-1 - $101,350] Title Ready has started only once this year, and that was a two-turn allowance victory at Oaklawn when he showed some early speed while adding blinkers. Will they try and set the pace in the Rebel? Facing stakes company for the first time.

 Curlin’s Honor
 [ML – 6-1 – Curlin – Casse/Geroux – 2: 2-0-0 - $56,220] This highly regarded son of Curlin has won both of his career starts and was odds-on in both of those starts. The Mark Casse runner will have to not only jump to graded stakes company, but will also try two turns for the first time. He won both starts by a neck after finding some trouble in the final stages of the races. Faces a class test.

 Solomini
 [ML – 5-2 – Curlin – Baffert/Prat – 4: 1-2-1 - $472,000] Ahmed Zayat, patriarch of Zayat Stables, said that he wanted Solomini to make his 2018 debut in the Rebel Stakes, just as his Triple Crown winner American Pharoah did in 2015. This son of Curlin has been away from the races since Dec. 9, when he crossed the finish line first in the Grade 1 Los Al Futurity ahead of McKinzie. Known as a difficult horse to train, Solomini missed some time on the track after spiking a fever. Maybe the extra time gave him a chance to mature and master some of the race track lessons with which he had been struggling. The Bob Baffert trainee has shown determination and a will to win in his first four races. Recently, he worked fast in long breezes, as is the way with Baffert’s horses. He is the likely favorite on his 2-year-old form alone and he will be a formidable opponent if he can put all of the pieces together. Baffert runners like the Rebel.

 Magnum Moon
 [ML – 4-1 – Malibu Moon – Pletcher/L. Saez – 2: 2-0-0 - $37,800] Beyond Audible, the Todd Pletcher runners on the Derby trail have not been faring well. Magnum Moon sports a perfect record with a Gulfstream maiden score in January and then a two-turn allowance victory at Tampa Bay. As with any horse, he faces the tough task of stepping up to graded stakes company for the first time. Pletcher has had success doing so in the past, but there is some established talent in the Rebel field. Luis Saez stays on Magnum Moon and gets off Sporting Chance. Pletcher asking a lot.

 Higher Power
 [ML – 20-1 – Medaglia d’Oro – Von Hemel/Eramia – 3: 2-0-1 - $68,728] This son of Medaglia d’Oro is a January winner of a mile allowance race at Oaklawn in which he beat the well-regarded New York Central. He is training smartly out of that race as trainer Donnie Von Hemel readies Higher Power for the big step up to this Grade 2 stake. An off-the-pace effort is expected from this one. Steps up from an allowance win.

 Pryor [ML – 30-1 – Paynter – Moquett/Albarado – 4: 1-0-1 - $54,886] It took four tries for Pryor to break his maiden, and he did it on a muddy Oaklawn track while running on the lead. This is a very significant class challenge for the son of Paynter. Up against it.

 Sporting Chance
 [ML – 3-1 – Tiznow – Lukas/J. Velazquez – 4: 2-1-1 - $319,140] This is a big race for Sporting Chance. He had excuses in his 2018 debut in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes. Lukas does not have his horses at 100% off the layoff, and he was bumped and jostled down the stretch. The Hopeful winner should be ready to show his best in the Rebel. A stalking trip is to be expected from the son of Tiznow. Hall of Famer John Velazquez picks up the mount. One of the key contenders.

 High North [ML – 20-1 – Midnight Lute– Cox/G. Stevens – 5: 1-1-0 - $73,350] As a 2-year-old, High North finished a troubled fourth in Churchill Downs' Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, a race that has produced four future winners on the Derby Trail in Bravazo, Enticed, Promises Fulfilled and Quip. He ran an even race to get fifth in the Risen Star. It is reasonable to expect some improvement from this Brad Cox runner. Has graded stakes experience.

 Zing Zang
 [ML – 20-1 – Tapit – Asmussen/Lanerie – 5: 1-0-0 - $49,845] This a late-running son of Tapit finished fifth in the Southwest and fourth in the Grade 3 Lecomte. It would seem that this one would need a very fast collapsing early pace to be a contender in this good quality field and that scenario does not seem likely. A very deep closer.

 Combatant
 [ML – 10-1 – Scat Daddy – Asmussen/Santana, Jr. – 5: 1-3-0 - $248,550] Three seconds in three starts on the Derby trail against names like Mourinho, Greyvitos and My Boy Jack is quite good. However, as the amount of Derby points go up, so does the level of competition. Combatant will need to step up his game to continue gathering points. Can he hit the board again?

 Bode’s Maker [ML – 30-1 – Bodemeister – Milligan/Loveberry – 9: 1-2-1 - $67,272] This late addition to the field has run four times this year, waking up to finish second in an Oaklawn allowance after being beaten in his other starts. He was uncompetitive in the Springboard Mile and the Smarty Jones Stakes previous on the Derby trail, plus this will be his toughest race to date. Over his head in the Rebel.

Summary: 
This big field in the Rebel is lacking in pace. Any horses that have shown an interest in running near the early lead are not particularly fast. When this happens in a big race, class and talent become the most significant factors. Solomini, Sporting Chance, Combatant and High North have an edge in the class category. Horses such as Magnum Moon, Curlin’s Honor and Higher Power will need to rely on talent to help them compete with those that have had success in graded stakes.

This race is wide open with Solomini and Sporting Chance the most likely winners. I will look for a big price to get into the top three.

Suggested trifecta wager
: Solomini, Sporting Chance with Solomini, Sporting Chance with ALL [3,7 with 3,7 with ALL] and Solomini, Sporting Chance with ALL with Solomini, Sporting Chance [3,7 with ALL with 3,7].

 

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