Scully going with Baffert for Kentucky Derby Dream Bet Rebel pick

Profile Picture: James Scully

March 19th, 2016

Unlike my colleague Ed DeRosa, who has failed to qualify for the Kentucky Derby Dream Bet, I’m feeling no pressure heading into Saturday’s Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park after selecting Gun Runner and Danzing Candy in previous weeks.

And I’m not going to overthink it; Bob Baffert focuses upon the Rebel every year, winning five of the last six editions at the Hot Springs, Arkansas track, and the Hall of Fame trainer has the fastest horse in the field based upon BRIS Speed ratings, with Cupid registering a field-best 97 last time for an impressive 5 ¼-length maiden victory.

Cupid didn’t run poorly but dropped his first two starts sprinting, finishing fourth and second, respectively, before stretching out to two turns with a gusto, closing powerfully to record a 5 ¼-length decision over maiden special weight rivals at Santa Anita on February 7. The gray colt posted a field-best 111 BRIS Late Pace rating while offering a superb late turn of foot.

By Tapit, Cupid appears to be training sensationally since the eye-catching performance, working 6-furlongs in 1:11 3/5 eight days earlier, and I like the inside draw (a couple of main rivals must overcome outside posts). Cupid isn’t a one-dimensional closer, displaying good tactical speed in all three starts, and he figures to settle into a good stalking trip before offering his best with Martin Garcia.

Cupid will establish himself as a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender with a Rebel victory.