Long Range Toddy Catches Improbable in Rebel Stakes Division 1

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 17th, 2019

He was favored at 2-5 and ran a good race, but when the real running began in the first division of the $750,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, the previously undefeated Improbable came up short of expectations and fell to defeat at the hands of Long Range Toddy.

Granted, Improbable faced some adversity in the 8.5-furlong Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race. The son of City Zip broke a bit flat-footed from the starting gate, which left him farther off the pace than usual while racing four-wide all the way around the track. From there, he didn't show quite as much tactical speed as usual and spent much of the race in fourth place.

Even still, it appeared that Improbable would prevail. Following fractions of :23.77, :47.58, and 1:11.97, the Bob Baffert-trained colt unleashed a rally under jockey Drayden Van Dyke, sweeping past second choice Galilean and the longshot pacesetter Classy John to seize the lead in the homestretch.

But lurking behind Improbable was Long Range Toddy. After initially vying for the early lead, Long Range Toddy had settled back in fifth place while employing ground-saving tactics under a perfect ride from veteran jockey Jon Court. Turning for home, the 8-1 shot shifted out in the lane and set his sights on reeling in the favorite. Remarkably, Long Range Toddy did just that, producing a much stronger finish than usual to nail Improbable in the shadow of the wire and prevail by a neck 1:42.49 seconds. Galilean fought on to finish third, 2 ¼ lengths behind Improbable and a length in front of Extra Hope, who made a big mid-race move before tiring to fourth place.
To put the winning time in context, Long Range Toddy’s clocking was faster than the time of 1:42.72 posted by the Grade 1-winning mare Midnight Bisou in the Azeri Stakes (gr. II) one race earlier on the card. The finish of the Rebel Stakes was also respectable, with the final sixteenth of a mile elapsing in :06.06 seconds.

Trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Willis Horton Racing, Long Range Toddy was securing his second win in a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race, following his hard-fought victory in the Remington Springboard Mile last December. In addition, the son of Take Charge Indy placed second in the Smarty Jones Stakes and third in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) earlier this season.

For his victory, Long Range Toddy earned 37.5 Kentucky Derby qualification points, giving him 53.5 overall to place third on the current leaderboard. Improbable, with 25 points under his belt, ranks ninth. The result might have been an upset, but there can be little doubt that Long Range Toddy’s last-minute rally has placed him thoroughly among the top contenders for the 2019 Kentucky Derby.