Pugh Plots Rebel From Start To Finish
BY LAURA D. PUGH
The Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park has been one of the most competitive and productive Kentucky Derby preps in recent years, and 2016 looks like it will be no different with an imposing field of 14 set to face the starter and ready to prove that they are worthy to continue down the Triple Crown trail.
Suddenbreakingnews and Whitmore, the Southwest Stakes winner and runner-up, respectively, lead the returnees from that race. Whitmore will be looking to gain the measure of Suddenbreakingnews after that foe swept by him in deep stretch, to take the Southwest from under his nose. Suddenbreakingnews will be out to prove that his sudden rush into the winner’s circle was a legitimate win, and not a flash in the pan. However, both will be facing several new challengers. Will they be able to step up against these new horses? Look in my crystal ball and you will see if they are, indeed, up to the challenge!
Those two foes both came from the back of the back in the Southwest, but what happens up front in the Rebel will be just as interesting. As the horses come away from the gate a rapid pace will begin to unfold, as Ralis, Siding Spring, and Madtap vie for the early lead. They will be closely followed by the Bob Baffert shipper, Cupid, Pikes Shirl, American Dubai, and Gray Sky.
The next flight will include Z Royal, Cutacorner, and Whitmore. Cherry Wine will be just off of them, with Creator and Suddenbreakingnews bringing up the rear of the field.
With so much speed, we can expect a solid early pace. The first quarter will go in 23 seconds, with the half being run at a similar pace, clocking in 46 and change. Here is where the cheaper speed, Ralis and Siding Sprng, will begin to fade. As they lose momentum Cupid will move up to keep Madtap busy through six furlongs in 1.12 and change.
With just over a quarter mile left, the closers will be revving up, while Madtap and Cupid begin to grow leg weary. It will be at this point that Whitmore surges to take the lead, as the field enters the stretch. This will also be when Cherry Wine and Suddenbreakingnews start to find their best strides, and begin to steadily advance on the leaders.
Through the stretch, Whitmore will quickly build a good sized lead, but Cherry Wine and Suddenbreakingnews will start cutting into the margin with alarming speed, gobbling up ground with their tremendously long strides. In the final 1/16th of a mile, Suddenbreakingnews will break away from Cherry Wine, and take aim at Whitmore.
As they close in on the wire, Suddenbreakingnews’ turn of foot will be prove too much for Whitmore to withstand. Suddenbreakingnews will surge to the lead to take the Rebel by two or so lengths, over a game Whitmore, as Cherry Wine runs on for third. The final time will be a snappy 1.43 flat, for what will be a very exciting Rebel Stakes.