Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert looks for more, more more as Billy Idol would say as he goes for his eighth win in the $1 million Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
When Idol sings his standard Rebel Yell, “He lives in his own heaven, collects it to go from the seven eleven, well, he’s out all night to collect a fare, just as long, just as long it don’t mess up his hair,” maybe he is talking about Baffert, I don’t know.
Over the past dozen years Baffert has won the Rebel a record seven times. Every year in the midnight hour before the Rebel I have to try and find a way to beat a Rebel contender sent out by Baffert and this year there are two—the 2-1 second choice Concert Tour and maiden winner Hozier (12-1).
It appears I could not find one this year. So much for, “I’d sell my soul, for you, babe, for money to burn, for you.”
Concert Tour appears the one to beat in the field of eight that line up in Hot Springs on Saturday. The race is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race with 50-20-10-5 points on the line.
The colt is coming off a smart win in the San Vicente (G2) going seven furlongs in his second career start and will be going two turns for the first time.
“The timing’s right for this horse,” Baffert said. “He’s sort of on the same path as Nadal. It’s all about timing. This race happened to come up perfect timing for him. So, we’ll stretch him out. We’re getting close now. I just want to see a good effort out of him, see how he’s going to ship, how he’s going to handle the ship, then shipping to run against some really nice horses. This is where they start to see if you’re fit or not on the road to the Derby.”
Concert Tour Wins San Vicente
Standing in Baffert’s way is the 9-5 morning line favorite Caddo River who will be sent out by trainer Brad Cox who is having a solid meeting at Oaklawn Park, hitting at a 29% clip.
The colt wired the field in the Smarty Jones, drawing away easily to win by 10 ¼ lengths. The Rebel is one of five stakes on an outstanding card at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
The wildcard in the race is American Pharoah (G1) winner Get Her Number from the Peter Miller barn. He makes just his second career start on dirt and his first off a 5 ½ month layoff.
Concert Tour and Caddo River are both listed at 12-1 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at BUSR.
Among the other stakes is the $200,000 Hot Springs which will feature Whitmore going for his fifth consecutive win in the race. The gelding makes his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) last fall at Keeneland.
The supporting stakes include the $150,000 Temperance Hill, the $500,000 Essex Handicap and the $350,000 Azeri (G2).
I will have selections and analysis for all of the stakes in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 11 The Rebel G2 5:16 CT
7 Concert Tour 2-1
4 Get Her Number 8-1
1 Caddo River 9-5
6 Keepmeinmind 4-1
One of two in here sent out by Baffert, this colt will go two turns for the first time here. Baffert won this race last year with Nadal who took the same exact path, breaking his maiden in his debut and then winning the San Vicente (G2) going seven furlongs. Our top pick tracked the early pace, took over the lead in the stretch and drifted out late winning by a half-length over Freedom Fighter, who was fourth in the Gotham (G3) in his next outing. This colt should only get better with more ground. He is by Street Sense out of a Tapit mare. Baffert is 28% winners moving runners from sprint to route. The trainer has won this race a record seven times and this promising colt can make it eight.
Get Her Number
This colt makes his first start since winning the American Pharoah at Santa Anta last September. He prompted the early pace and held on to win by ¾ of a length. It was his first start on dirt after making his first two starts on turf. The runner up as Rombauer, who was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and then won the El Camino Real. The third-place finisher was Baffert’s Spielberg who broke his maiden in his next start and also won the Los Al Futurity (G2). The colt was the runner up in the Southwest (G2) here in his last outing. The colt has been working well at San Luis Rey for the Miller barn that is 18% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day layoff. Castellano picks up the call and the 8-1 morning line looks fair enough to give him a look here.
The Cox trainee made his stakes debut in the Smarty Jones here last out and he rolled to a gate to wire score, drawing clear to win by 10 ¼ lengths. Three he beat have come out of the race to run back with the best finish coming from fourth place finisher Moonlite Strike who was third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). The colt draws the rail and owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers. He should be able to handle the extra ground here. He is by Hard Spun out of the stakes winner Pangburn ($338,480) who was best going two turns. There are several runners in here capable of being in the mix early and a fast pace could develop which would make his 9-5 morning line look like an underlay.
WIN: Concert Tour to win at 2-1 or better.
EXACTA: 7 / 1,3,4,6 and 4,7 / 1,4,7