Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rebel Stakes

Oaklawn Park

Saturday March 13, 2010
Estimated Local Post Time: 5:47 pm
Name: Rebel Stakes Grade: 2
Purse: $300,000
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES

Cardiff Giant
Looking At Lucky
Royal Express
Uh Oh Bango
Pleasant Storm
Noble’s Promise

On the road to the Triple Crown the Rebel Stakes are one of my favorite stops. This race has helped Kentucky Derby victor Smarty Jones and Preakness Winner and Super Horse Curlin take flight on their way to horse racing supremacy. Of course it’s also featured a few surprises like Win Willy from last year, which should have been a good indicator of how a strange a three year old season it would be in 2009!

This year the Rebel Stakes could once again offer up a great Triple Crown preview with the #2 horse Looking At Lucky.

Looking At Lucky has got the name, the talent, five trips to the winners circle in his last six races and practically everything you look for in an up and coming star. However for this particular race there are a few strikes going against both he and (#6) Noble’s Promise. Both horses will be carrying 119 lbs, which is 2lbs more than everyone except (#1) Cardiff Giant who will be carrying only 115 lbs.

Both Looking At Lucky and Noble’s Promise are coming back from almost a three month lay-off, having not raced since Looking At Lucky defeated Noble’s Promise in the Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park back on December 19th.

One other interesting factor is that both of these horses will be transferring from a synthetic track to a dirt track, which they may or may not like racing on – we’ll only know after it’s all said and done.

While I expect these two horses to be among the favorites – the Rebel Stakes should be a very competitive race.

The Irish Bookends Cardiff Giant and Dublin (both are American horses with Irish names) – finished behind winner Conveyance in the February 20th Southwest Stakes here at Oaklawn Park (Dublin was driving for a 2nd place finish, while Cardiff Giant trailed in third).

In the last nine races Cardiff Giant has finished no worse then 4th – and he only did that once.

Dublin looks like he’ll benefit with more distance in this race than the 1 mile Southwest Stakes he just raced in – and both of these horses will be thankful that Conveyance (who has defeated Cardiff Giant in two consecutive races) will be sitting this one out.

One of Dublin’s previous races includes finishing behind (#4) Uh Oh Bango who finished 2nd in the Iroquios Stakes last November, as Dublin finished 7th.

Uh Oh Bango has been an impressive colt so far, finishing 2nd in a muddy Delta Jackpot last December – the only thing this horse hasn’t done is win a major stakes race, and it’s very possible he could be on his way to doing that here at the Rebel. Uh Oh Bango will most likely challenge for the early lead with Royal Express.

When I think of Royal Express, I just think of the words “No problem”.

Break well out of the gate – no problem
Take the lead and hold it – no problem
Win two straight races on dirt – no problem
Run in the mud – no problem
Run more than just 6 furlongs - no problem…….well….that might be a problem.

Royal Express has impressed me so far with his ability to make a break for the rail, contain it for 5 furlongs and then bolt for a victory in the last few seconds of the race. However he’s never won a race more than 6 furlongs – so when he reaches the final turn he’ll either stretch out and make a very impressive victory or fade…..I’m guessing the latter of the two. Still in a 6 furlong race – this horse is money.

Finally there’s Pleasant Storm who has nothing on his resume to suggest that he’s going to be able to compete with these horses. His last two races have been here at Oaklawn Park with a 7th place finish in the Southwest Stakes (behind Dublin and Cardiff Giant) and a 2nd place finish in January. If I could bet on one horse coming in last it would be this horse.

I believe the race will unfold with Royal Express and Uh Oh Bango leading the charge – I think Looking At Lucky will ride the rail slightly behind these two horses as Dublin, Noble’s Promise and Cardiff Giant position themselves for the second turn. I think this race all comes down to:

If Uh Oh Bango expends too much energy chasing the lead with Royal Express – both horses could fade down the stretch after burning up the track for 6 furlongs. However if Uh Oh Bango can remain patient – and position himself with a lead coming out of the final turn, then I think you have to look and see if Looking At Lucky has a lane to make a move on the inside – if for any reason Looking at Lucky gets boxed in coming out of the final turn, it could mean the difference between finishing 1st and finishing 5th for this horse.

I think Looking At Lucky will find enough luck to battle Uh Oh Bango for the victory and have just enough of a smart trip and an early lead to keep a late charging Dublin and Noble’s Promise from stealing a victory.

My pick –

Looking At Lucky, Uh Oh Bango, Dublin.

*Looking At Lucky will be sporting new blinkers for this upcoming race, which has the ZZ Top classic Cheap Sunglasses running through my head – with the awesome lyric –

“She had a west coast strut that was as sweet as molases”

I suspect the song is now in your head as well –

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