Looking for a star-spangled result in Rebel

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 17th, 2017

Saturday's $900,000 Rebel (G2), this weekend's lone Kentucky Derby (G1) prep, has been the virtual domain of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert this decade. He's won the race six of the last seven years, including the last three, most notably with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015)

There are other logical contenders in this year's edition, but I'll be chalky in my outlook again for the purposes of the $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet. Baffert has the 2-1 morning line favorite in American Anthem (#7), and I think the lightly-raced colt can step in and to an extent fill the void left by the barn's best Derby prospect, Mastery, who was sidelined after last week's San Felipe (G2).

A reminder to those participating in the contest to play both races and pad your total for an opportunity to win Qualifying Round Prizes. More information on the contest and prizes can be found here.

A son of 2012 Arkansas Derby (G1) hero Bodemeister (also trained by Baffert), American Anthem has raced just twice, winning a six-furlong maiden at Del Mar in December and then finishing second to Grade 1 winner Gormley by a head in the Sham (G3) at Santa Anita over a mile the following month.

Considering his inexperience compared to Gormley, who won the FrontRunner (G1) last fall, and the decision by jockey Mike Smith to set a strong pace of :22 2/5, :45 2/5, and 1:10 with the colt while hounded by the winner the whole way, the narrowness of the defeat made it an exemplary effort. Indeed, one could argue his performance was better than Gormley's.

Now, Gormley didn't exactly flatter the form of that race in the San Felipe, though Gormley throwing a dud was nothing unique. I won't hold that against American Anthem as his potential for growth and improvement for Derby purposes presently exceeds that rival's.

I'll let Malagacy attempt to impersonate his stablemate, Southwest (G3) winner One Liner, without my support. Instead, I'll lean on Petrov, the Smarty Jones and Southwest runner-up, and Silver Dust as exotic options underneath American Anthem.

(Coady Photography)