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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Late Mover Could Win Runnin' Rebel


By Dick Downey

Posted March 15, 2012 @ 6:40 p.m. ET

It could turn out to be a bust, but I picked my winner of the Grade II Rebel Stakes about two weeks ago.

It's strange seeing Calvin Borel riding riding a 3-year-old horse with Shadwell Stable colors, much less one training early in the year at Oaklawn Park in the care of Danny Peitz. But Najjaar is, like Godolphin's Alpha, training in the U.S. instead of the U.A.E for a run at the Kentucky Derby. A long overdue strategy.

So far this year in 10 stakes previews I've submitted on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, my top selection has won seven times -- so things are due to turn down. And Najjaar's time, when he won a 1 1/16-mile allowance win over older horses on March 2, wasn't fast.

But the race was visually impressive, and that counts for something. Twelve lengths behind the pacesetter after a quarter-mile run in :23.42 and 11 1/2 back at a half in :47.22, Najjaar inhaled horses on the far turn, putting him only 3 1/2 lengths off the lead after six furlongs. It didn't happen in the blink of an eye, but if you briefly looked away, you missed it.

If you like a closer in any given race, you want a little front speed to help you along. That can be found with Scatman and Secret Circle runnin' in the Rebel after finishing one-two in the faster of two divisions of the Grade III Southwest Stakes. Opening fractions in that race went in :23.21 and :46.81.

Cyber Secret has run his best stuff on the lead, so he and Robby Albarado could contribute to a spirited pace. If Unbridled's Note stays in the race, which looks unlikely from here, he'll have to be sent from post 1. He got behind by accident in the Southwest, and he couldn't close ground -- no use staying back on purpose this time around, and certainly not from that post.

Secret Circle's time in the Southwest was about five lengths faster than that of Castaway.

Coming back in the Rebel after running behind Castaway are Jake Mo (second by 3 3/4 lenghts), Reckless Jerry (third by 4 1/4), Ring It Up (fourth by 4 1/2 -- and entered in the Friday allowance) and Unbridled's Note (ninth by 7 1/4).

Jake Mo has worked well since the Southwest but would have to make up almost nine lengths to win. The others would have to improve more than that.

Back in the Rebel after running behind Secret Circle are Scatman (second by 1/2), Adirondack King (third by 6), Pee H Dee (fourth by 8) and Cyber Secret (fifth by 10 1/2).

Scatman has put in a couple of works since then and looks likely for another good effort. Although he advanced from ninth to third in the Southwest, Adirondack King failed to make up any ground on Secret Circle and Scatman. Pee H Dee came from seventh to fourth but lost lengths on those two. Note two bullet works for Pee H Dee on a muddy track since the Southwest. As of this post, the forecast calls for isolated thunderstorms with a 30% chance of rain on Saturday.

Sabercat has more than enough earnings to make the Kentucky Derby. He's ducked the West Coast competition and is engaging a deeper track in prep for his next race before the big one. For him to win would be surprising to me, but he does need to get something out of the race, and he has enough closing kick to dent the board.

That leaves Atigun and Optimizer undiscussed. Atigun has a quarter-crack that's been patched, and he's worked three times since then, but this isn't Big Brown. A board hit with a patient ride by Terry Thompson isn't out of the question, but I have doubts.

Optimizer is back for a trainer who gives his charges every chance. If he wins, we'll hear the refrain: "If you don't run, you can't win." But Optimizer, a son of English Channel, may be tried on turf before you know it. Last time out, he steadily lost ground in the Grade II Risen Star. OK, we won't compare him to El Padrino -- but he finished 7 1/2 lengths behind third-place finisher Z Dager.



Saturday, Race 10
Grade II Rebel Stakes
Oaklawn Park
Purse: $500,000
Distance: 1 1/16 Mile
Surface: Turf (Rail 84 Feet)
Post Time: 6:48 ET

Post Horse   ML Jockey Wt S M Trainer
1 Unbridled's Note (KY)     C. Hill 115 C L S. Asmussen
2 Scatman (KY)     L. Quinonez 117 C L M. Lauer
3 Cyber Secret (KY)     R. Albardado 117 C L L. Whiting
4 Optimizer (KY)     J. Court 115 C L D. W. Lukas
5 Jake Mo (KY)     M. Berry 117 C L A. Milligan
6 Sabercat (KY)     C. Nakatani 119 C L S. Asmussen
7 Secret Circle (KY)     R. Bejarano 122 C L B. Baffert
8 Atigun (KY)     T. Thompson 117 C   K. McPeek
9 Reckless Jerry (KY)     J. Rocco Jr. 115 C L K. Smith
10 Ring It Up (KY)     L. Wade 115 C L C. Richard
11 Pee H Dee (KY)     I. Ocampo 117 C L C. Richard
12 Najjaar (KY)     C. Borel 117 C L D. Peitz
13 Adirondack (KY)     S. Elliott 117 C L J. Servis
A - Coupled Entries - Ring It Up, Pee H Dee
Owners: 1 - Mike McCarty; 2 - JEOG Racing LLC (James & Mary O'Grady); 3 - Charles J. Cella; 4 - Bluegrass Hall LLC (Brad Kelley); 5 - Stephen R. Brown; 6 - Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC (Ron & Joan Winchell); 7 - Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram & Paul Weitman; 8 - Shortleaf Stable (John E. Anthony); 9 - Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. & Lanita Davis (Toby Covel); 10 - James McIngvale; 11 - James McIngvale; 12 - Shadwell Stable (Rick Nichols); 13 - MarchFore Thoroughbreds 
Breeders: 1 - Gulf Coast Farms LLC & Unbridled's SongSyndicate; 2 - JEOG Racing, LLC; 3 - Paragon Farms, LLC; 4 - Bluegrass Hall, LLC; 5 - E. H. Beau Lane III; 6 - Lantern Hill Farm LLC, William J. PunkJr. & Lighthouse Group LLC; 7 - Willmott Stables; 8 - Brereton C. Jones; 9 - Dream Walkin' Farms, Inc. & Lanita Davis; 10 - Clover IV Stables; 11 - Omega Farm, B. D. Gibbs Farm LLC &Chancey Mill Farm; 12 - Shadwell Farm, LLC; 13 - Stonewall Farm Stallions


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