Rebel Stakes notes: Laughing Fox 'absolutely' prefers two turns

Rebel Stakes notes: Laughing Fox 'absolutely' prefers two turns
Photo: Coady Photography

There hadn’t been a three-time winner at the 2019 Oaklawn Park meeting through Thursday, the 28th day of the scheduled 57-day season.

 
Laughing Fox will get his chance at a triple in the second division of Saturday’s $750,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds, the stakes debut for the son of Union Rags.

 

Laughing Fox is unbeaten around two turns, both 1 1/16-miles races this year at Oaklawn. He broke his maiden Jan. 25 and won a Feb. 18 first-level allowance race by 1 ¼ lengths. The chestnut colt ran twice at 2, finishing seventh and fifth in 7-furlong maiden special weights events.

 

Owner Alex Lieblong said Laughing Fox was “absolutely” going to be a two-turn horse from Day 1.

“The 7-furlong races were more for education purposes,” Lieblong said. “Sure, we would have loved to have won the races, but I didn’t have any feeling that was going to happen. But that’s kind of what you’ve got to do with a horse like this, I think.”

 

Laughing Fox made his first career start for trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs before being moved to Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. Lieblong, who chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission, purchased Laughing Fox for $375,000 at the OBS March 2-year-old in training sale. 

 

Fit for a King?

 

Pricey yearling purchase Market King is scheduled to make his stakes debut in the second division of Saturday’s Rebel.

 

A son of Into Mischief, Market King is coming off a third-place finish in a Feb. 24 allowance sprint for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Market King was wheeled back in the 6-furlong race after breaking his maiden at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 9.

 

“I’ve done that before,” Lukas said Friday morning. “I thought I would just sharpen him a little.”

Market King races for Lukas’ longtime clients Robert Baker and William Mack, who purchased the colt for $550,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The owner/trainer team finished third in the 2010 Rebel with Dublin, fourth in the 2014 Rebel with Strong Mandate and fifth in last year’s race with Sporting Chance.

 

Market King tuned up for the Rebel with a 5-furlong bullet workout (1:01.20) March 8.

 

“It’s the time of the year when you need to find out where you’re at a little bit, whether you drop back with the lesser allowance horses or if you can move forward and maybe develop a horse with Triple Crown potential,” Lukas said. “We’ll just see.”

 

Lukas won the Rebel in 1989 with Manastash Ridge and again in 2013 with Will Take Charge, who went on to become the country’s champion 3-year-old male that year.

The rest from the West

In addition to Game Winner and Improbable, six other Southern California-based Rebel entrants were flown Wednesday to Arkansas – Extra Hope and Omaha Beach for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, Galilean and Gunmetal Gray for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Parsimony for trainer Doug O’Neill and Easy Shot for trainer Keith Desormeaux.

 

“There weren’t a lot of options where we were,” said O’Neill, a two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer. “I think a lot of us are very fond of Oaklawn, so this was kind of a no-brainer. When the racing office, management talked about splitting it, it gave you the confidence to put your horse on the plane and not get worried you weren’t going to get in.”

 

Galilean is the early second choice in the first division at 3-1. A California-bred son of champion Uncle Mo, Galilean is 3 for 4 overall, including the $200,000 California Cup Derby Feb. 18 at Santa Anita. The colt, a $600,000 2-year-old purchase by West Point Thoroughbreds, won the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile Stakes Sept. 22 at Los Alamitos in his career debut. Hollendorfer will also be represented by Gunmetal Gray in the second division.

 

“Galilean, the original plan was to run in the Rebel,” Hollendorfer said. “We had considered several different races for Gunmetal Gray, including the San Felipe, which was canceled. Once we found out the availability might be to split the race, then we were interested in sending Gunmetal Gray there.”

 

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