Recent Trends in the Rebel Stakes

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

February 23rd, 2022

Due to changes in Oaklawn's racing calendar this winter, the $1 million Rebel S. (G2) will have its earliest ever running this Saturday. At least, that is, since its recent evolution into one of the most lucrative of Kentucky Derby (G1) preps.

Here are three things to know about the Rebel since 2010.

It's been the Bob Baffert show

In the 13 editions of the Rebel staged since 2010 (there were two divisions in 2019), Bob Baffert has won eight. He's saddled 10 post-time favorites during that period, five of which won at odds of 7-5 or less. Baffert also lost with five favorites that started at odds ranging from 2-5 to 8-5. 

Two of Baffert's other winners won as the close second choice. The outlier among Baffert's winners was the future $4.7 million earner Hoppertunity, who paid $14.20 after taking the 2014 Rebel.

Despite enduring some short-priced losses, Baffert-trained horses show a flat-bet profit in the Rebel since 2010. Putting a deuce on all 15 of Baffert's starters since then would have resulted in an ROI of $3.13 for every $2 wagered. Even leaving Hoppertunity out of the equation, Baffert's runners still have a positive ROI. It's not as nice, though, sitting at just $2.34.

Hall of Fame trainers have won the others

When Baffert hasn't reached the Rebel winner's circle, other Hall of Fame trainers (current and future) have stepped up to the plate.

D. Wayne Lukas produced the biggest upset during the period in question when eventual three-year-old champion Will Take Charge (2013) paid $58, while Todd Pletcher won back-to-back runnings (2017-18) with the stakes debuters Malagacy and Magnum Moon.

Odds-on favorites from the Baffert stable lost both divisions of the 2019 Rebel, to the Steve Asmussen-trained Long Range Toddy and to Richard Mandella's Omaha Beach.

Longshots in exactas

With Baffert such a dominant force, what are bettors looking for a price to do in the Rebel? Well, don't discount the possibility of some craziness in the second slot. Among the Rebel runners-up during the period in question were Caleb's Posse (24-1 in 2011), Optimizer (27-1 in 2012), Sonneteer (112-1 in 2017), Excession (82-1 in 2020), and the Baffert-trained Hozier (18-1 in 2021). 

One final note is that finishing second in the Rebel has been a harbinger for future success. In addition to the aforementioned Caleb's Posse, who later won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1), the list of Rebel silver medalists includes Preakness (G1) winner Oxbow and future champions Improbable and Whitmore.