A field of eleven will line up in Saturday’s Grade 2 $600,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park, with 85 points (50 to the winner) up for grabs in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert will send out a pair of runners including the 3-2 morning line favorite Super Ninety Nine, who has already made one trip to Hot Springs this year, dominating the Grade 3 Southwest in the slop, winning by 11 ¼ lengths.
Go against the white-haired trainer at your own peril.
Baffert is always dangerous when shipping in to Oaklawn Park. Dating back five years the trainer has started 21 runners in Hot Springs, and 14 of them made it to the winner’s circle.
Last year he won both halves of the split Southwest with Secret Circle and Castaway, the Rebel with Secret Circle and came back to win the Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister.
Baffert will also saddle Den’s Legacy, who finished in the runner up spot in his last two starts in the Grade 3 Sham and Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis. The winners of those two races were Flashback and Goldencents, who came back to run second and fourth respectively in the Grade 2 San Felipe on March 9.
It would be no surprise to see Baffert continue his dominance at Oaklawn Park, but Super Ninety Nine is likely going to be bet down from his already light 3-2 morning line odds.
With the race having plenty of early speed signed up, I am going to hop off the Baffert bandwagon and try to beat him for the top spot.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Oaklawn Park.
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Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 10 The Rebel G2 (Post time 5:48 CT)
1 Treasury Bill / 1a Title Contender 5-1
7 Will Take Charge 15-1
10 Super Ninety Nine 3-2
4 Dehomme 7-2
Analysis: Treasury Bill has the look of a colt that wants to go two turns. Last out the colt made a good late rally while wide to finish in the runner up spot in the San Vicente (G2) going seven furlongs at Santa Anita. The fourth place finisher War Academy came out of the race to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in his next outing on March 15. The Ron Ellis trainee has worked smartly since his last outing and has the pedigree to handle two turns. He is by Lemon Drop Kid out of the Menifee mare Wow Me Free ($215,739) who was a Grade 3 winner going nine furlongs, and this is her first foal to race. Despite the stretch out he should be sitting off front and should get a solid early pace to run at. Entrymate Title Contender brings some speed to the race and is coming off a game runner up finish to Carve. He was outrun in two starts in Grade 1 company last year after a good looking maiden core in his second career start. He makes his first start here for the Wayne Catalano barn who takes over from Baffert.
Will Take Charge was a game winner over the surface here in the Smarty Jones, but then regressed last out in the Southwest (G3) in the slop, beaten 18 lengths. He is better than he showed last out and will look for him to rebound here for the hall of fame D. Wayne Lukas barn at a price. The $425,000 Keeneland purchase has a nice pedigree. He is by Unbridled’s Song out of the Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady ($2.48 million) who produced the winner of last year’s Grade 1 Florida Derby with Take Charge Indy ($871,824).
Super Ninety Nine comes into this race off a good looking 11 1/4 length win in the Southwest over a sloppy surface. It is tough to toss anything hall of famer Bob Baffert sends out at Oaklawn Park. Dating back five years the trainer has started 21 runners in Hot Springs, and 14 of them made it to the winner’s circle. Last year he won the split Southwest with Secret Circle and Castaway, the Rebel with Secret Circle and came back to win the Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister. The colt did get a pretty easy lead and that is not going to happen here as this race is top heavy with early speed. He has been chalk inn his last four starts and will be again today. I might regret going against Baffert in Hot Springs, but such a light price we will try to beat him for the top spot.
WIN: #1 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 1,7 / 1,4,7,10
TRI: 1,7 / 1,4,7,10 / 1,4,7,9,10