Road to Derby: Baffert Looks for Another Rebel Win with Cupid

14 Derby hopefuls will head to the gate in Saturday's Rebel (G2) Stakes at Oaklawn Park. (photo credit: Oaklawn Park)

14 Derby hopefuls will head to the gate in Saturday’s Rebel (G2) Stakes at Oaklawn Park. (photo credit: Oaklawn Park)

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will look for his sixth win in the $900,000 Rebel (G2) on Saturday at Oaklawn Park when he saddles recent maiden winner Cupid, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line in a full field of 14.

Baffert has won the Rebel in five of the last six years including last year with American Pharoah, who went on to sweep the Triple Crown, Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and Horse of the Year honors.

This year he tries to win the Rebel again by shipping in a $900,000 son of Tapit who broke his maiden at Santa Anita in his third career start and first around two turns.

His main foe will be Suddenbreakingnews, the last to first winner of the Southwest (G3) over the main track at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 15. The Donnie Von Hemel trainee is one of seven that exit the Southwest.

Four of the last 10 winners of the Rebel prepped in the Southwest, the last being Will Take Charge in 2013.

The Rebel is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, with 50-20-10-5 points up for grabs to the top four finishers. Suddenbreakingnews is currently 23rd in the points standings with 10, and a top two finish would likely be good enough to stamp his ticket to Louisville. The colt is currently at +900 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at Mybookie.ag.

For Cupid, it is his stakes debut and he will need to win to guarantee a spot, while a runner up finish could still get him into the field if there are some defections over the next six weeks.

The last Rebel winner to exit a maiden race was Curlin in 2007, and that colt turned out to be pretty good, a two-time Eclipse Award winner for Horse of the Year.

Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

  op1

Oaklawn Park Race 10 The Rebel (G2) Post time 6:06 CT

4 Cupid   7-2

6 Siding Spring   20-1

12 Suddenbreakingnews   3-1

5 Discreetness   12-1

Cupid faces winners for the first time here after breaking his maiden last out in his third career start, earning a solid Beyer that fits here and he earned the top last out BRIS speed fig. The colt is saddled by Baffert who has won this race in five of the last six editions and is deadly when shipping in to Hot Springs. Dating back five years the trainer is 13 for 31 (42%).

Two back the colt ran a good second to Denman’s Call sprinting, that runner coming back to run a decent third in the San Vicente (G2), beaten four lengths by the undefeated Nyquist, the current second choice in early Derby betting. He looks capable of moving forward in just his second start around two turns. The $900,000 Keeneland purchase has a nice pedigree, by Tapit out of the stakes placed Pretty ‘n Smart who has dropped seven other others and three are stakes winners, top earner Heart Ashley ($395,898).

Siding Spring was the pacesetter in the Southwest (G3), breaking from the 11 post, carving out a sharp pace and weakening to finish fifth. It was his first start since running 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) where he was beaten five lengths.

He is eligible to move forward off that effort and runner son or near the pace fare well over the main track here at this distance. He broke his maiden in his debut on turf and then ran a good third in the Bourbon (G3) before shifting to dirt. He is in good hands with the Casse barn and is going to be a generous price here.

Suddenbreakingnews drew a tough spot in the Southwest and it did not matter, going from last to first with a seven wide run and he finished up strongly in the stretch to win by 2 ¾ lengths. He draws a tough post again, but is going to get some pace to run at but also needs to work out another trip at a short price.

The Von Hemel trainee has not run a bad one and will be flying late, but our top pair here likely are going to offer more value for the top spot.

Wagering:

WIN: #4 to win at 3-1 or better.

EXACTA: 4,6 / 4,5,6,12

TRIFECTA: 4,5,6,12 / 4,5,6,10,12

 

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