Rebel Stakes (G2)
Winner (pts): Will Take Charge (50)
2nd, 3rd, 4th (pts): Oxbow (20), Den’s Legacy (10), Texas Bling (5)
Will Take Charge has never really gotten any respect. Even after upsetting the Smarty Jones Stakes at 12-1, he was only 7-1 in the follow-up Southwest (G3). An 18-length defeat in the slop was all the ammo most bettors needed to write him off for the remaining Oaklawn series of races. On Saturday in the Rebel (G2) he made himself known once again with a well-timed come-from-behind victory down the stretch over stablemate Oxbow.
Will Take Charge’s break and early going was clean but he did have to navigate some traffic and make a wide move into the far turn. While some call the fractions just slightly faster than average, I think a 23.36 quarter and 47.19 half are quick for a 1 1/16 mile contest and did help Will Take Charge make up ground. The Beyer/BRIS speed figures of 95/101 are respectable, and despite the inevitable improvement of competition in upcoming races, Will Take Charge should be a threat considering his running style and proven class.
Runner-up Oxbow garnered just as much respect as the winner, if not more, based on his wide trip in the first half of the race. An argument can be made that Mike Smith moved too soon before the 2nd turn too, but he claims it was “the hand that was dealt to us”. I don’t buy it, but nonetheless it was a gutsy and encouraging effort from the other Lukas trainee.
Den’s Legacy seems to always be in the mix, with his show in the Rebel representing the fourth consecutive in-the-money finish in a Derby points race. He’s always at least a length behind the winner, and never making a strong final move, but his constant presence should be noted. Den’s Legacy probably needs another good finish to earn enough points for the Kentucky Derby.
TV analysts and others commented on a “no-show” performance by favorite Super Ninety Nine. Even the colt’s connections couldn’t come up with a valid excuse other than a “deep track”. Maybe I watched a different race, but I saw multiple excuses. Starting from the outside post in a ten-horse field, Super Ninety Nine was kept wide into the first turn by Title Contender who was really urged in the opening strides by Luis Quinonez. Although Super Ninety Nine settled in the backstretch and was in a good position, he ran into more trouble down the stretch when sandwiched by Oxbow and Den’s Legacy and forced to pull back. By that time the race had already taken it’s toll on Super Ninety Nine and he threw in the towel. I believe with a better postposition and trip Super Ninety Nine could be heard from again.
The day after the Rebel, next race plans were already tentatively scheduled for the top finishers. D. Wayne Lukas will separate his one-two duo by sending winner Will Take Charge to Keeneland for the Blue Grass (G1) and keeping Oxbow at Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby (G1). Third place Den’s Legacy will also return to Oaklawn, while Bob Baffert will look for other options for dissapointing well beaten favorite Super Ninety Nine// The Sunland Derby (G3) is shaping up to be a popular race. With a virtual automatic entry to the Kentucky Derby for the winner and $800,000 purse it’s no surprise// As usual, a bevy of contenders put in official workouts over the weekend. Shanghai Bobby always gets ink following a breeze, and remains on target for the Florida Derby (G1). His foe Itsmyluckyday breezed at Calder Saturday, while another likely Florida Derby entrant Orb is set for a workout Monday// Recent San Felipe (G2) winner Hear the Ghost didn’t get much time off seeing as he breezed four panels at Hollywood, which is just a day over a week from that race// Finally, be sure to keep tabs on two winners from Friday. War Academy won an allowance at Santa Anita by over three lengths, while Todd Pletcher trained Zaikov trounced his competition in a maiden contest at Gulfstream by over fourteen lengths. It’s getting late and Pletcher indicated Zaikov’s next race would be an allowance, so it’s unlikely he’ll point for the Derby. War Academy on the other hand will take a shot in an upcoming 170-point Derby prep// more…
Notes on the Rebel (DRF)
Shanghai Bobby stays sharp for Florida Derby (Bloodhorse)
Orb scheduled for Florida Derby breeze (Brisnet)
Ground Supports works swiftly for La Derby (Bloodhorse)
Frac Daddy likely for Florida Derby (Bloodhorse)
War Academy flashes Derby potential (Brisnet)
Wynn Las Vegas 3/16 (Courier Journal Blog)
Top 10 (Star-Ledger)
My Name Is Michael- PAY- 5F- 1.00:40- B- 1/9
He's Had Enough- SA- 6F- 1.13:00- H- 2/10
Know More- SA- 3F- 39:00- H- 7/10
Sunbean- FG- 4F- 50:60- B- 39/52
Frac Daddy- GP- 5F- 1.00:85- B- 1/29
Itsmyluckyday- CRC- 5F- 1.01:00- H- 1/12
Elnaawi- BEL- 4F- 50.33- B- 47/69
Siete de Oros- PARX- 1:01.67- B- 2/15
Heaven's Runway- OP- 5F- 1:02.80- B- 19/36
Dewey Square- GP- 4F- 47:02- B- 1/26
Normandy Invasion- PMM- 5F- 59:76- B- 1/26
Palace Malice- PMM- 5F- 1.00:14- B- 2/26
Shanghai Bobby- PMM- 5F- 1.00:14- B- 2/26
Revolutionary- PMM- 5F- 1.00:65- B- 6/26
Capo Bastone- PMM- 5F- 1.02:51- B- 13/26
Positively- PMM- 4F- 48:88- B- 6/48
Clearly Now- PMM- 4F- 50:03- B- 32/48
Departing- FG- 4F- 50:60- B- 43/69
Mylute- FG- 4F- 50:60- B- 43/69
Dice Flavor- HOL- 6F- 1.14:00- H- 2/10
Hear the Ghost- HOL- 4F- 50:80- B- 31/38