Race of the Week 2017

Loaded Rebel Draws 13

September 08 2010. J P's Gusto and Patrick Valenzuela win the Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar CA. (Charles Pravata / Eclipse Sportswire)
Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 51

The deepest prep of the 2011 Kentucky Derby trail? No doubt about it … it’s Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

I have a lot of great friends down in Arkansas, and they have been raving for weeks about what a great field the Rebel would attract. I have been listening, and they were right. 13 three-year-old colts have been entered for the 51st running of the grade 2 stakes at the lovely Hot Springs oval. The 13 horse field not only has depth, but the race is loaded with talent and potential. So much so, that more than half of the field are currently in my top 30 of Derby contenders. The big seven are comprised of both local stars, as well as a strong contingent coming from California.

Sway Away will be running away from Southern California for the first time, and also will be running in his first race around two-turns. Don’t expect either to give this son of Afleet Alex too much trouble, as he attempts to parlay his excellent form in sprint stakes into becoming one of the Kentucky Derby favorites. If he can finish as full of run as he did when a fast closing 2nd in the San Vicente, he looms the one to beat in here. The winner of the San Vicente, The Factor, also shipped in to Arkansas, but he has more distance questions than anyone in the field. The Bob Baffert trained son of War Front was so impressive in his last two sprints though, that he may still go off favored on Saturday. He will no doubt be the one they all have to catch. California import, J P’s Gusto, now trained by Joe Petalino, has been stabled at Oaklawn for more than a month and ran a deceptively strong race when 2nd in the Southwest Stakes. Any improvement at all for the multiple stakes winner could get him in the winner’s circle. While the California trio represents a strong group, the same could be said for the local runners.

Alternation is coming off two strong wins at the track since shipping in from Remington Park. The good looking, well bred son of Distorted Humor has yet to test stakes company, but his steady improvement makes me think that he will belong with company like this. In his first start at Oaklawn, he narrowly defeated Elite Alex. Like Sway Away, Elite Alex is a son of Afleet Alex who has received largely favorable reviews in his brief career.  The inexperienced Canadian bred has broke in a tangle and raced quite wide in his last two, but still closed stoutly in both races under Calvin Borel, including a last out 3rd in the Southwest Stakes. With a little more seasoning it would be no surprise to see him turn the tables on the Southwest winner, Archarcharch, who also was highly regarded before disappointing in the Smarty Jones Stakes in January. Proving that race was not true, he was strong down the stretch in winning the Southwest at odds of 14-1. He probably won’t get much more respect Saturday, but is reported to be doing very well for trainer Jinx Fires. The final of the big 7 is Caleb’s Posse, who was an impressive winner of the Smarty Jones before running a troubled trip 6th in the Southwest for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Rounding out the rest of the field are Bluegrass Jam, Dreaminofthewin, Glint, J W Blue, Picko’s Pride, and Saratoga Red. Of those six that are not in my current top 30, Glint and Picko’s Pride would seem to have the best chance to make some noise.

In a race that in recent years has produced winners like Smarty Jones, Lawyer Ron, Curlin, and Lookin at Lucky, it should come as no surprise that the Rebel has attracted a quality field of potential Derby contenders, and this field is arguably the deepest edition ever. Will the winner go on to similar exploits of those names just mentioned? Maybe, maybe not, but one thing is for sure, the winner of Saturday’s Rebel will earn great experience moving forward to the cavalry charge that is the Kentucky Derby.

[With seven horses currently in the Top 31 of HRN's 2011 Kentucky Derby Contenders, something has to give. Who will retain their ranking, and who will move up?]



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Older Comments about Loaded Rebel Draws 13...

Can't wait to see this one. I think The Factor will hold on longer than some think but probably not quite win. I like J P's Gusto and Sway Away for the win. If I look at the lineup too long I start questioning every choice I make...what a field! I love how strong the Rebel came up it's usually the prep for the Arkansas Derby but this year it's truly a prep for the Kentucky Derby.
Thanks Jennifer! I wondered if someone would do this with the big purse and small field of the Louisiana Derby. Btw, I give your namesake a big shot in here
Thanks for a great piece, Brian! There's still time to jump on a plane.... :) I read this morning that Elite Alex may skip and go to LA Derby. That would make my decision easier, but I am disappointed because I want to see him run again. I'll be looking most closely at Sway Away and Archarcharch, but I'm not giving up on my namesake yet, the Gusto..
The Factor's fate lies with Saratoga Red. If he goes with The Factor, TF will be nothing but a pace factor. If he takes back, TF could make an easy lead and be gone. For his sake, I hope TF gets cooked and finishes off the board. Maybe then they will point him to Met Mile like they should
Love how strong the Rebel came up, add in the fact that Astrology should have been here and this race is ridiculously loaded with prime Derby prospect. I can't wait to get seated and enjoy the day at Oaklawn.
This is going to be a great race. I can't wait to watch, the problem is I don't know if I am pulling for Sway Away or Archarcharch
Ooh, this is gonna be a fun race to watch!
You are not the only rooting for him ... Mike Moss, where are you?
Gotta go with my heart and not head. Go Archarcharch!
The Factor will be out and winging, the question is how long can he last ... my bet is he will not make it to the wire first, but he has a better chance of beating these at 1 1/16 miles versus the 1 1/4 miles of the Kentucky Derby.
I'm looking forward to watching this one...so many favorites: JP's Gusto (primarily I'm pulling for Joe Petalino to be in the winner's circle), Sway Away and The Factor. Again, my inexperience may be showing, but could the Factor possibly be an inintentional "rabbit" burning up the track and then run out of steam, setting up the pefect duel between JP's Gusto and Sway Away? Or, will one of the lesser known colts surprise us and be a new star?
Hoping The Factor outruns his pedigree!!

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