Horses to watch on Rebel Stakes Day at Oaklawn Park

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 16th, 2019

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- The biggest non-Racing Festival of the South Day in Oaklawn Park history? Saturday's card is surely in that discussion with two divisions of the Rebel (G2) featuring the current favorites for the Kentucky Derby (G1), a tremendous renewal of the Azeri (G2) for older fillies and mares, and nine of the 11 races carrying six-figure purses. Throw in abundant sunshine and an expected huge pre-St. Patrick's Day crowd, and you have all the markings of a record day. Here are thoughts on the blockbuster card. Race 1 #6 ALL ABOUT WILL (6-1) caught slop in his debut last September at Churchill and could only rally mildly for fourth. Can improve on that, especially if Ortiz can avoid a wide journey. Race 2 We'll see if a long-standing track record of nearly 62 years is threatened in this 1 1/2-mile starter allowance. Though winless in seven previous tries here, #2 UCANTHANKMELATER (20-1) was a clear second in the 1 3/4-mile Trail's End starter here on Arkansas Derby Day last season. Enters with the benefit of a couple preps earlier in the meet. Race 5 #6 INCORRIGIBLE (7-2) turned in a nice race on Southwest Day last month off the layoff despite being run down by Comedian and just lasting for second. Working well for barn that's starting to heat up after a slow start to the meet. Race 6 Despite having spent most of his time on turf since last fall, #3 FIGHT ON (8-1) still has potential to be a capable dirt router. Has tried a two-turn route on a fast track only once previously, and surely a better horse since having outrun his odds in a pair of graded stakes on the grass in December. Race 7 -- Azeri (G2) #5 ELATE (8-5) ran two terrific races in the Delaware H. (G2) and Personal Ensign (G1) last summer before injury cut her season short. However, Mott had her ready to win the 1 1/4-mile Del 'Cap off an eight-month break, so firing fresh off a near seven-month break, even against this stronger field, perhaps not so daunting. Race 8 -- Rebel (G2) 1st division   FREE Brisnet past performances #9 IMPROBABLE (3-5) looks ready to pop in his season debut for Bob Baffert. #8 Galilean is also well-regarded, but we'll look to key Improbable in an Exacta over the Richard Mandella-trained #1 EXTRA HOPE (6-1), a distant third to Improbable in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and most recently a convincing allowance winner at Santa Anita. Race 9 -- Essex H. He doesn't have a reputation for winning often, but #3 SONNETEER (5-1) does tend to fire when least expected, especially over this track. Very good efforts in the 2017 Rebel (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1) come to mind, and he shocked in the $125,000 Fifth Season here at 29-1 last meet. Last month's Razorback H. (G3) only his second start since May, and he was a good fourth there. Needs plenty of help up front, but may get it. Race 10 -- Rebel (G2) 2nd division   FREE Brisnet past performances Champion juvenile #5 GAME WINNER (4-5) will be tough to topple if he's improved at all since November. Fellow Californians #6 Omaha Beach and #8 Gunmetal Gray bring respectable merits, but #4 JERSEY AGENDA (15-1) has the potential to rebound from an awful trip in the Southwest and complete the Exacta at a respectable price. Race 11 Two intriguing first-time starters in this six-furlong maiden. #6 GILES (9-2) is by 14% debut sire Candy Ride and out of the the juvenile stakes-winning Stage Top, who has already reared Sapling (G3) winner She Digs Me, juvenile stakes winner Stageplay and the classic-placed Mylute, who also was a stakes-quality performer at two. #10 FIRECROW (4-1) is by 18% debut sire Maclean's Music and shows a string of solid works, including a bullet five-furlong move on March 2. Take advantage of TwinSpires.com's Rebel Double Bonus on Saturday. Opt in and play a Double involving one or both of the Rebel divisions for your chance to earn a share of $1,000 in bonus cash. A share of a $500 Winner's Bonus is also available for those that hit Doubles that involve both divisions of the Rebel. Our Rebel Double Bonus play will be in Races 10-11: 5 with 6,10. Good luck to all!   Photo by Vance Hanson