As the road to the 147th Kentucky Derby rolls along, US Racing looks back at some history of many of the prep races that now offer qualifying points to Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 1.
By Margaret Ransom
Maybe it’s the $1 million purse or maybe it’s the race’s reputation as a solid Triple Crown prep [after all, American Pharoah won the Rebel before his Triple Crown run in 2015] but the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park has become one of the most anticipated Kentucky Derby (G1) preps of the year.
The Rebel is the second leg of the Oaklawn 3-year-old stakes program, the first being the Southwest Stakes (G3) won by 2-year-old champion Essential Quality two weeks ago, and the third the Arkansas Derby (G1), set for April 10.
In addition to American Pharoah, some classic horses have taken home the Rebel trophy. Since it was first contested in 1961, we’ve seen classic winners and/or champions Smarty Jones, Lookin at Lucky, Curlin, Victory Gallop, Pine Bluff, Sunny’s Halo and Temperence Hill win, just to name a few. Other notables include Bold Ego, Vanlandingham, Demons Begone, Lawyer Ron, The Factor, Will Take Charge, Omaha Beach/Long Range Toddy in two divisions in 2019 and Nadal/Charlatan [later DQ’d] a year ago. Sunny’s Halo, Smarty Jones and American Pharoah each won the Rebel and the Derby. Temperence Hill (1980) and Victory Gallop (1998) went on to win the Belmont Stakes (G1) in 1990, while Pine Bluff (1992) and Curlin (2007) won the Preakness (G1).
Originally run as Rebel Handicap, the 1961 Louisiana Derby winner Bass Clef took home the inaugural running before going on to finish third in the Kentucky Derby behind Carry Back. The race was changed to be contested under stakes conditions in 1984 and has been held at 1 1/16 miles since. It has been at least a Grade 3 since 2003.
Two-time Triple Crown-winning Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who sends out a formidable pair this year in Hozier and 2-1 favorite Concert Tour, has owned the Rebel, saddling the winner seven times in the past 11 years: Lookin at Lucky, 2010; The Factor, 2011; Secret Circle, 2012; Hoppertunity, 2014; American Pharoah, 2015; Cupid, 2016; and Nadal, 2020. Hall of Famer Mike Smith has ridden five winners to lead all jockeys (Rare Brick, 1986; Dalhart, 1993; Etbauer, 1999; Hoppertunity, 1994; and Omaha Beach, 2019).
Once again, the 1 1/16-mile event offers road to the Derby points on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the first four finishers.
What is the weather for the Rebel Stakes?
The Saturday weather is expected to be warm in Hot Springs, with no rain likely at least through Saturday with a high near 80 degrees.
What is the post time for the Rebel Stakes?
The Rebel is the11th race on the card with a post time of 5:16 p.m. CT.
The eight-horse field for the Rebel, by post-position, with jockey, trainer, and odds:
Rebel Stakes 2021 Entries
1. Caddo River (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox) 9-5
Hard Spun—Pangburn, by Congrats
2. Big Lake (Ricardo Santana, Jr., Steve Asmussen) 12-1
American Pharoah—Resistivity, by Student Council
3. Hozier (Martin Garcia, Bob Baffert) 12-1
Pioneerof the Nile—Merry Meadow, by Henny Hughes
4. Get Her Number (Javier Castellano, Peter Miller) 8-1
Dialed In—Fancier, by Bernstein
5. Twilight Blue (Brian Hernandez, Jr., Joe Sharp) 15-1
Air Force Blue—Lily the Pink, by Rahy
6. Keepmeinmind (David Cohen, Robertino Diodoro) 4-1
Laoban—Inclination, by Victory Gallop
7. Concert Tour (Joel Rosario, Bob Baffert) 2-1
Street Sense—Purse Strings, by Tapit
8. Super Stock (Joe Talamo, Steve Asmussen) 6-1
Dialed In—Super Girlie, by Closing Argument