Powell: How to Bet the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park
by DICK POWELL
Bob Baffert had a productive weekend at Santa Anita with MCKINZIE finishing first across the line in the San Felipe S. (G2) on Saturday and JUSTIFY romping in an allowance race the next day.
Baffert will continue the assembly line of top 3yos on Saturday in Oaklawn Park’s $900,000 Rebel S. (G2) going 1 1/16 miles with SOLOMINI looking for a well-deserved graded stakes win.
A debut winner at Del Mar going 6 ½ furlongs back in early September, he came back in the FrontRunner S. (G1) going two turns but was no match for BOLT D’ORO. Next time out, he was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) but then he came back to finish first in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) only to be taken down and placed third by the stewards.
Between MCKINZIE’s take down on Saturday and SOLOMINI’s in the Futurity, Baffert is going to be like the football coach that can’t go to the zoo since he can’t stand to be around the zebras.
But, depth is a blessing and as Baffert tries to keep them all apart, he shows up Saturday with SOLOMINI to try to earn enough points to clinch a berth in the Kentucky Derby (G1). The Rebel awards 50-20-10-5 points to its top four finishers and a first or second should be enough for the son of CURLIN.
Off for 98 days, SOLOMINI meets 10 rivals and with the lavish purse that is available, the Rebel came up very strong. SPORTING CHANCE is the only graded stakes winner in the entire field but there are a bunch that are on the cusp of going on to bigger and better things.
Todd Pletcher, as expected and predicted in this space last month, ships up MAGNUM MOON for his stakes debut off two brilliant wins. His debut at Gulfstream Park was terrific and the third-place finisher came back to romp by 11 lengths. He then shipped up to Tampa Bay Downs for a two-turn allowance win where he just missed breaking the track record. Luis Saez is back to ride – 35% with Pletcher the past two months.
TITLE READY broke his maiden for Steve Asmussen three starts back going seven furlongs at Keeneland then came back two starts later here and beat first-level allowance foes going two turns when blinkers were added for the first time. He draws the rail, has good early pace and picks up hot young rider Jose Ortiz.
CURLIN’S HONOR is undefeated in two starts going six furlongs and now the son of Curlin stretches out to what he was bred to do. He’s been odds-on in both starts and cost $1.5 million last year as a 2yo-in-training. Mark Casse trains.
HIGHER POWER broke his maiden going two turns second time out at Remington Park then he came back here and beat allowance foes. His Speed figures have to get a lot better but it looks like Donnie Von Hemel has worked him hard and fast for this.
PRYOR was beaten a length in his two-turn debut two starts back here then came back and won easily last out on a muddy track. It was a huge leap forward so can he do it again and how much was due to the wet track? He has trained well for Ron Moquett and gets Robby Albarado. There’s plenty of pedigree being sired by Paynter out of a stakes-winning dam by Distorted Humor.
SPORTING CHANCE won the Hopeful S. (G1) at Saratoga but that race comes across as weak. Off until the Southwest S. (G3), he was a good third on the muddy track and should go forward from here.
HIGH NORTH’s last four races came at two turns so you can see that Brad Cox knows he has a distance horse on his hands. His last two starts were against Grade 2 stakes company with Lasix and could jump forward in his second start off the layoff.
ZING ZANG is another from Steve Asmussen that looks like this year’s Lookin at Lee. A one-dimensional closer, he could be Asmussen’s Belmont S. (G1) starter since he is by Tapit, who has sired three of the last four winners.
COMBATANT is knocking on the door of being a classic contender and one day, the door will open. He showed good acceleration in the Southwest where he passed horses willingly on the outside and will have to run a similar race here from post 10 to get in the money.
BODE’S MAKER looks hopelessly overmatched and will be sent off at giant odds.
My top six picks are MAGNUM MOON, SOLOMINI, CURLIN’S HONOR, COMBATANT, TITLE READY and HIGH NORTH. SOLOMINI is going to be hard to beat and is training lights out for this. Baffert has shipped in here and taken the money many times including winning this race with The Factor who handled two turns easily and of course American Pharoah.
MAGNUM MOON has huge talent and gets his class test. He settled beautifully in his last start and quickened when Saez asked him to go. From post 4, he should get a ground-saving stalking trip and will be very tough. Baffert will probably send SOLOMINI so MAGNUM MOON can chase him.
I am going to focus on my top two picks of SOLOMINI and MAGNUM MOON and key them above the logical contenders. I am guessing that SOLOMINI will take more money than MAGNUM MOON so my main play will be a straight exacta with MAGNUM MOON on top and a saver with SOLOMINI over him.
Then I will play Trifectas with #3 SOLOMINI and #4 MAGNUM MOON in the top spot and #2 CURLIN’S HONOR, #10 COMBATANT, #1 TITLE READY and #8 HIGH NORTH boxed underneath. I need my top two choices to finish first then the other three in the money. This is not a key box and should be 40 combinations.
First Trifecta ticket: SOLOMINI over MAGNUM MOON, CURLIN’S HONOR, COMBATANT, TITLE READY and HIGH NORTH over MAGNUM MOON, CURLIN’S HONOR, COMBATANT, TITLE READY and HIGH NORTH
Second Trifecta ticket: MAGNUM MOON over SOLOMINI, CURLIN’S HONOR, COMBATANT, TITLE READY and HIGH NORTH over SOLOMINI, CURLIN’S HONOR, COMBATANT, TITLE READY and HIGH NORTH