The Grade 2, $1 million Rebel Stakes, which will be run Saturday, is the third of four official prep races at Oaklawn on the road to Kentucky Derby 2023. The 1 1/16-mile race drew 11 3-year-olds who will compete for the 50-20-15-10-5) points that go to the top five eligible finishers.
Seven horses in the Rebel field already have run in a Derby points prep, and four of them finished in the top five to earn qualifying points. Red Route One leads the way with 13 points that he earned in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and most recently in the Southwest (G3), where he was second.
Here is a full-field analysis for the Rebel, which is scheduled as race 11 of 12 with post time set for 6:23 p.m. EST. Each horse is shown with morning-line odds from the Horse Racing Nation staff, his sire, trainer, jockey, record and purse earnings.
1. Verifying (4-1, Justify, Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 4: 2-1-0, $260,150) Verifying was a debut winner at Saratoga with a front-end effort as a heavy favorite. He stepped up to Grade 1 company in the Champagne, where he had the lead in the stretch and finished second to Blazing Sevens to pick up four Kentucky Derby qualifying points. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Verifying basically ran sixth the entire race. He returned to the races this year and won an allowance at Oaklawn by more than five lengths, earning a big speed figure that indicates he could be successful in the Run for the Roses. Brad Cox has done a masterful job placing his horses on the Derby trail, with six wins from five 3-year-olds. Win contender.
2. Powerful (12-1, Nyquist, Steve Asmussen, Isaac Castillo, 4: 2-1-0, $207,390) Powerful also was a maiden winner at Saratoga, which came in his second start after a loss by a head in his first race. In the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), he broke slowly and was far back the entire race. He cut back to sprinting to end his 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the Ed Brown at Churchill Downs. The Rebel will be Powerful’s first start of 2023, and he is expected to be part of a fast pace. Toss.
3. Red Route One (8-1, Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen, Cristian Torres, 6: 1-1-1, $313,575) Red Route One began his career on the turf, and he broke his maiden at Kentucky Downs in his second start. He moved to the Derby trail and finished third in the Breeders’ Futurity, fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and second in the Southwest to earn 13 qualifying points. Red Route One will get a fast pace to set up his late closing move. Win contender.
4. Gun Pilot (8-1, Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 3: 2-1-0, $151,600) In November, Gun Pilot broke his maiden in his first race by two lengths as an odds-on favorite at Churchill going seven furlongs. He returned for his second race and finished behind Verifying in that January allowance. Three weeks ago, Gun Pilot raced from a stalking position to win an allowance by two lengths going a mile as a heavy favorite and defeating Bourbon Bash. Use underneath.
5. Giant Mischief (7-2, Into Mischief, Brad Cox, Irad Ortiz Jr., 3: 2-1-0, $193,400) Giant Mischief began his career with a pair of wins. In September he broke his maiden at Horseshoe Indiana and then moved up to an allowance at Keeneland. Cox moved him onto the Derby trail in the Springboard Mile, where he lunged at the break and had to rally from last. He was able to get second, but he was probably the best horse in the nine-horse field at Remington Park and earned four Derby points. He will make his first start of the year in the Rebel. Top choice.
6. Reincarnate (3-1, Good Magic, Tim Yakteen, John Velazquez, 5: 2-3-0, $142,400) Reincarnate will be the first 3-year-old to move from the Bob Baffert barn and appear in a prep race in an effort to become eligible for the Kentucky Derby. After three third-place finishes, including two on turf, Reincarnate broke his maiden with a front-end run going a mile at Del Mar in November. Last month he won the Sham (G3) at Santa Anita while racing for Baffert. Reincarnate had a few fast workouts since, which is typical of Baffert horses who are going to be in peak form. Win contender.
7. Confidence Game (12-1, Candy Ride, Keith Desormeaux, James Graham, 6: 2-1-2, $203,775) Confidence Game is out of Eblouissante, who is a half-sister of Zenyatta. After getting his maiden win in his second start at Churchill, he has run twice on the Derby trail and earned seven points from a fifth in the Iroquois (G3) and a third in the recent Lecomte (G3). Between those stakes races, Confidence Game had a second and a win in allowances in Kentucky. Live long shot.
8. Talladega (15-1, Into Mischief, Rodolphe Brisset, Flavien Prat, 4: 1-0-1, $68,028) Talladega needed five starts to get his first win, which came on a wet sealed track at Oaklawn with a gate-to-wire run going two turns. As a 2-year-old in his second race he finished third behind Gun Pilot. Toss.
9. Event Detail (20-1, City of Light, Paulo Lobo, Gerardo Corrales, 3: 1-1-0, $57,305) Event Detail got his maiden victory in his third start, which was at Turfway Park going a mile on the synthetic surface in a field of 12. He began his career on the main track at Churchill Downs when he was sixth against a strong field. Toss.
10. Bourbon Bash (20-1, City of Light, D. Wayne Lukas, Mickaelle Michel, 8: 1-3-1, $174,900) Bourbon Bash was an eight-length winner of a maiden at Saratoga. From there Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas put Bourbon Bash in a series of stakes races. He was distanced in a pair of Grade 1s but was more competitive in lesser stakes in Kentucky, with two top-three finishes. Three weeks ago, Bourbon Bash was second in an allowance at Oaklawn after having the lead in the stretch. Toss.
11. Frosted Departure (20-1, Frosted, Kenny McPeek, Francisco Arrieta, 10: 3-0-2, $317,211) This gray son of Frosted brings plenty of experience to the Rebel, including a third in the Southwest that brought him six Derby points. He is at his best when he is one of the pacesetters, which will be a challenge breaking from the far outside in this Derby prep race. Toss.
Summary: A fast pace is expected in the Rebel with Powerful, Reincarnate, Confidence Game and Frosted Departure expected to set the early fractions. Verifying and Giant Mischief, who should be stalking the leaders, will benefit from the fast fractions.
Verifying and Giant Mischief are both from the barn of Brad Cox, who has been making all the right moves on the 2023 Kentucky Derby trail. Verifying had an impressive allowance win at Oaklawn to prepare for the Rebel. Giant Mischief will return from a two-month layoff after three strong performances as a 2-year-old.
Giant Mischief should benefit from the time off, and could be unbeaten in three starts were it not for a bad start that put him in last in the Springboard Mile. That makes Giant Mischief the top choice to give Cox yet another Derby trail victory.