The Rebel: Can Bob Baffert Continue his Dominance

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, March 13, 2021

Another Kentucky Derby contender will add its name to the reservation list before we lose an hour of sleep by turning our clocks forward. A field of eight will compete for the winners' 50 Derby qualifying points in the $1 million Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn.

Aside from last year's COVID-crazy qualifying, getting fifty points has been enough to run for the roses since the points system was instituted in 2013. He who wears the Rebel Crown will vault to number four on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with Greatest Honour holding the top spot.

Coming home second secures 20 KD points, which are not enough standalone, but coupled with 20% of the $1 million pot, the runner-up will be well positioned to race on the first Saturday of May. Money won is the tiebreaker and $200,000 would rank 12th of the 51 horses that have earned points to date.

According to morning line odds, there are two primary contenders to earn the 50 and punch their ticket to Churchill Downs, CADDO RIVER (PP: 1 ML 9/5) and CONCERT TOUR (PP: 7 ML 2-1).

CADDO RIVER has the Kentucky Derby pedigree as the son of 2007, second place finisher HARD SPUN. He is coming off a 10 length win in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes in his first race at Oaklawn Park. That follows a dominating 9 ¾ length score to break his maiden in his third try. Both of his wins were wire to wire after jockey Florent Geroux took the reins. Once again, on the lead is his path to the Rebel winners' circle.

Bob Baffert is the trainer for CONCERT TOUR and you really don't need to know much more than that. The white-haired trainer has won seven of the last 12 Rebel Stakes, including last year with NADAL. Baffert is taking the same, exact path to the Rebel with CONCERT TOUR as he did with NADAL. Both started with a maiden win, followed by the Grade II, San Vicente Stakes trophy and on to Oaklawn for the Rebel. Oddly, both horses ran an Equibase speed figures of 106 in the San Vicente; although, NADAL's final time was a little more than a second faster.

Trainer Robertino knows how to find Oaklawn's winner circle. He was number one in Ws during last year's meet, and he's tied with Steven Asmussen for the top spot this year. His horse, KEEPMEINMIND (PP: 6 ML 4-1) is a horse you should keep in mind. Outside of a disappointing loss to ARABIAN PRINCE in his debut, KEEPMEINMIND has only finished behind one of the 2021 Kentucky Derby favorites ESSENTAIL QUALITY (twice) and HOT ROD CHARLIE (once), who sits 18th on the current road to the Derby. Minus a sluggish start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he probably would have gotten the better of HOT ROD CHARLIE and might have run down ESSENTIAL QUALITY.  A quicker start and KEEPMEINMIND could get the better of the two favorites as neither have run 1 1/16 miles.

Value players might look at GET HER NUMBER (PP: 4 ML 8-1) as the horse with the best chance to pull off the upset, He beat ROMBAUER and SPEILBERG in the Grade I, American Pharoah Stakes. Both horses have won Kentucky Derby Points races since. ROMBAUER won the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate. SPIELBERG took the hardware for the Los Alamitos Futurity and finished second behind ESSENTIAL QUALITY in the Southwest Stakes, at Oaklawn. However, he did end a disappointing fourth in between Los Alamitos and Oaklawn in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita after being bumped at the jump.

The Rebel is a big money race with a $1 million jackpot and a likely 2021 Kentucky Derby bid as a side prize, or is it the other way around? Either way, it should be a great race and an impressive win for any of the eight is likely to catapult them into Derby contender status.