Handicapping the Rebel, Jeff Ruby Steaks
A pair of Kentucky Derby qualifiers will be offered Saturday, with the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park and the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park. The Rebel will award points on a 50-20-10-5 scale toward a Kentucky Derby berth, with the Jeff Ruby worth 20-8-4-2 points.
Here is how I will play the races:
Nadal opened his career with a pair of front-running wins, including the 7-furlong San Vicente (G2), and was bet down to 8-1 favoritism in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. He will make his two-turn debut and first start in a qualifier in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel. Listed as the 5-2 morning line choice among eight entrants, Nadal will be closer to even-money by post time.
The rail post does the talented colt no favors. Trained by five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, the son of 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame has the pedigree and frame to handle longer distances, but Nadal has been eager from the start (dueling through :21 & change opening quarter-miles) while receiving inside trips in his first two starts. Getting him to settle from the inside Saturday, with serious speed to his outside in So Parole, is the challenge facing Joel Rosario. He may still prove best, but too many questions at short odds.
Three Technique blew the break when returning from a two-month hiatus in the Jan. 24 Smarty Jones. A convincing winner over maiden and entry-level allowance foes in his two previous starts, the dark bay 3-year-old offered a fine rally over the speed-favoring track to be a clear second, netting a career-best 96 Brisnet Speed rating.
He’s earned multiple triple-digit Brisnet Late Pace ratings, and Three Technique should receive a prime setup for his late kick Saturday. The Jeremiah Englehart trainee needed the last start and appears to be training forwardly since; all signs point toward a career-best effort here with Luis Saez. I will bet Three Technique to win & place, and box him in the exacta with Nadal (#1).
- $20 Win & Place #6 Three Technique ($40)
- $5 Exacta Box: 1-6 ($10)
Jeff Ruby Steaks
After recording couple of respectable performances on turf, Invader improved when switching to Turfway Park’s Polytrack in early December, breaking his maiden by 10 lengths. He carried his form forward when stepping up to face stakes rivals in the Feb. 14 John Battaglia Memorial S., romping by 6 1/4 lengths, and received an excellent 95 Brisnet Speed rating.
Purchased for $500,000 as a yearling, Invader can establish an up-close tracking positioning from his outside post. There doesn’t appear to be much early speed in the 12-horse field, and the son of War Front is the only serious contender with a win over the surface. Invader enters on the upswing for Wesley Ward, posting a pair of recent 5-furlong bullet works, and I like his chances with Albin Jiminez.
I will bet Invader to win, and key him in straight exactas over #2 Toma Todo, #3 Fancy Liquor, #8 FInnick the Fierce, and #12 Field Pass.
Jeff Ruby Steaks Wager:
- $20 Win #11 Invader
- $5 Exacta Part-Wheel: 11 over 2,3,8,12 ($20)