Despite darkening and rain-filled skies, Cypress Creek Equine LLC’s Un Ojo, and jockey Ramon Vazquez managed to see a clear inside path to victory in Saturday’s $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn.
The gelded son of Laoban, who was given his name after losing one eye in a paddock accident as a baby, shocked the crowd of 31,000 with the half-length win as the longest shot on the toteboard at 75-1. It was good enough to earn 50 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby and gave trainer Ricky Courville the biggest stakes win of his career.
Ethereal Road rallied into the stretch along with Barber Road, but those two faded in the final yards to finish second and third. Kavod set the pace, but was squeezed back to fourth. Un Ojo stopped the clock in 1:45 3/5 over a wet-fast track.
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Un Ojo, who had previously collected four points with his second in the Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct, moved into second-place on the leader board with 54 total points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility. Ethereal Road is now ranked fourth after collecting 20 points for second and Barber Road, who had been second in both the Smarty Jones and Southwest (G3) Stakes leading up to the Rebel, is now fifth with 18 points. Fourth-place finisher Kavod is ranked 19th with seven points. Only 20 horses can start in the Kentucky Derby.
Rebel Stakes Replay
“It’s crazy. It’s kind of shared between me and Tony (trainer Tony Dutrow) because I sent him to Tony, to Aqueduct, for the winter and Tony had him until Monday and sent him back to us,” said winning trainer Ricky Courville. “Gosh, I feel bad for Tony. The owners (Cypress Creek Equine) kind of decided (on the Rebel). I think Tony was wanting to keep him up there for the Gotham, but they wanted to not go back to a one-turn mile and (Kevin Moody of Cypress Creek Equine) wanted to send him down here and take a shot at the money. He kept saying the two turns is going to be better for us.”
Un Ojo improved his record to 2-2-0 in six starts and has earned $776,321. He returned $152.80, $41.80 and $18.60.
The Rebel Stakes is the last of three races leading up to the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby April 2, which offers a total of 170 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility.