Last Saturday, the Road to the Kentucky Derby had its first Championship Series winner when Epicenter won the Risen Star. The 50 qualifying points he earned in victory put him in the Kentucky Derby field — if his connections and trainer Steve Asmussen decide to enter the starting gate for the May 7 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Now some of the leading 3-year-olds looking for a chance to Run for the Roses take their shot Saturday at Oaklawn Park in the $1 million Rebel Stakes and the second biggest day of racing at the Hot Springs track.
The Grade 2 Rebel Stakes also serves as a prep race for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 2.
Saturday’s 12-race card at Oaklawn Park features the $1 million Rebel Stakes in Race 11 at 6:22 p.m. EST. The 1 1/16 mile race drew 11 entries and can be watched and wagered on online at TVG along with races from many other tracks as part of their comprehensive daily package. The other stakes race on Saturday’s Oaklawn card is race 5, the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles. It also serves as a qualifying points race toward the Kentucky Oaks on May 6.
The top four finishers in the Rebel and Honeybee receive qualifying points (50-20-10-5) for the 2022 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
2022 Rebel Stakes field and odds
Trainer Bob Baffert’s horses have a roadblock in their quest to Run for the Roses. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s recent ruling to hand him a 90-day suspension means his horses are not eligible to run in the Kentucky Derby if under his care. That includes Saturday’s Rebel Stakes favorite Newgrange, who remains undefeated in three starts, with a pair of stakes wins.
Newgrange won the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn as the 3-2 favorite on Jan. 29. He beat four rivals who return to run in the Rebel — Barber Road (second), Ben Diesel (third), Kavod (fourth) and Dash Attack (fifth), who was the second betting choice that day at 7-2 odds.
While Newgrange is the favorite to win the Rebel, there are plenty of other ways to bet on horse racing, and the exacta and trifecta pools will grow as popular bets.
|1||Kavod||12-1||F. Arrieta||C. Hartman|
|2||Newgrange||9-5||J. Velazquez||B. Baffert|
|3||Cairama||15-1||G. Franco||S. Asmussen|
|4||Un Ojo||12-1||R. Vazquez||R. Courville|
|5||Texas Red Hot||12-1||R. Santana, Jr.||R. Morse|
|6||Stellar Tap||10-1||C. Torres||S. Asmussen|
|7||Ben Diesel||6-1||J. Court||D. Stewart|
|8||Chasing Time||8-1||T. Gaffalione||S. Asmussen|
|9||Barber Road||9-2||J. Ortiz||R. Gutierrez|
|10||Ethereal Road||12-1||L. Contreras||D. Lukas|
|11||Dash Attack||8-1||D. Cohen||K. McPeek|
What to look for in track conditions, trainers and jockeys
Familiarity with the track and conditions is an edge when betting, as is racing connections. A horse in good form, improving and training well, who takes to the surface is what horsemen want. In addition, it’s what bettors desire in their pursuit of picking winners and identifying potential value in the odds and wagering pools. That includes in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has won 11 training titles at Oaklawn Park, and he has three runners in the Rebel. However, his go-to jockey and leading rider at the current Oaklawn meet, Ricardo Santana Jr., is riding Texas Red Hot for trainer Randy Morse.
Newgrange is 3-for-3, having won Derby points races in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on New Year’s Day, and then being shipped to Oaklawn, where his speed improved in winning the Southwest Stakes.
Barber Road has finished second in his three stakes starts, including two this year. Following his off-the-pace second-place finish behind Dash Attack in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, Barber Road came from far back to finish second at 11-1 odds in the Southwest Stakes 1 1/2 lengths behind Newgrange.
Ben Diesel is a son of the 2010 Rebel winner Will Take Charge. Ben Diesel finished seventh in the Smarty Jones but improved his speed and position to finish third in the Southwest Stakes at 5-1 odds.
Chasing Time made his stakes debut off a 1-mile Allowance win at Oaklawn last month by more than 7 lengths.
Dash Attack broke his maiden on debut in December and then won the Smarty Jones from off the pace over a sloppy surface. In his first start over a dry and fast track, he never fired and finished fifth in the Southwest Stakes. This month, he’s posted a pair of bullet five-furlong workouts over the Oaklawn track.
On Thursday, there is rain expected in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and freezing drizzle potentially early Saturday, so check the track and conditions on race day.
History of the Rebel Stakes and memorable winners and horses
Inaugurated in 1961, the 1 1/16 mile race became the Rebel Stakes in 1984. Upgraded to Grade II status in 2008, the Rebel has been part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system since 2013. The race was split into two divisions for the 2019 edition, and Omaha Beach won one of the races by a nose over Game Winner. Omaha Beach was the morning line favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was scratched just days before the race after being diagnosed with an entrapped epiglottis.
Rebel Stakes Day set attendance and handle records in 2019 when 45,500 fans (a best for this day) helped wager the then all-time Oaklawn record of $16.2 million.
Trainer Bob Baffert saddles the favorite Newgrange in the 2022 race, and Baffert has won the Rebel a record eight times, including the last two in 2020 and 2021 with jockey Joel Rosario riding.
In 2004, Smarty Jones won a $5 million bonus put up by Oaklawn Park for winning the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby over a sloppy surface as the favorite to become the first undefeated Derby winner since Seattle Slew in 1977. In his Triple Crown bid, Smarty Jones then won the Preakness before finishing second in the Belmont Stakes. Steve Asmussen trained the great Curlin, who won the 2007 Rebel and Arkansas Derby before finishing third in the Kentucky Derby. Curlin won the Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic and finished second in the Belmont Stakes.
Lookin at Lucky won the Rebel and Preakness in 2010, and Will Take Charge won the 2013 Rebel and Travers and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but did not hit the board in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes.
In 2015, the Rebel was won by American Pharoah, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years (Affirmed). American Pharoah also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2015.
Going back further, Temperence Hill won the Rebel Handicap in 1980 and went on to win the Arkansas Derby and Belmont Stakes at 53-1 odds. He also captured the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup. In 1983, Sunny’s Halo won the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby as the 5-2 second choice.
In 1992, Pine Bluff won the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Preakness but finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Belmont. In 1998, Victory Gallop won the Rebel and Arkansas Derby. However, he finished second in both the Preakness and Kentucky Derby behind Real Quiet. He mustered a valiant rally from the very back of the Derby field to finish with a flurry. But in one of the most dramatic editions of the Belmont Stakes, Victory Gallop chased down Real Quiet to win a photo finish by a nose and deny him the Triple Crown.
Rebel Stakes winners since 2010
|2019||Omaha Beach||4-1||$10.80||1:42.42||Front||2nd (nose)|
|2019||Long Range Toddy||8-1||$18.80||1:42.49||Midpack||2nd|
|2013||Will Take Charge||28-1||$58.00||1:45.18||Closer, off pace||5th|
|2010||Lookin at Lucky||6-5||$4.20||1:43.06||Closer, back||1st|