Mary and Gary West have two starters in the Grade II Rebel Stakes, trying to add to the their Kentucky Derby Road contenders Code West and Flashback.
Treasury Bill, trained by Ron Ellis, arrived in Hot Springs around noon Thursday after a flight from Southern California, while Title Contender was vanned to Oaklawn from trainer Wayne Catalano’s base at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
By 1999 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid, Treasury Bill most recently closed from last place to finish second to Shake it Up in the seven-furlong, Grade II San Vincente Stakes on Feb. 17.
“We’ve been building him up to this, and I’ve liked him all along,” said trainer Ron Ellis. “After his first race he got sick on us and missed about 10 days and that’s why we haven’t stretched him out yet. He’s behind schedule, but actually he’s bred to go a mile-and-a-half and I’m a little surprised at how well he’s sprinted so far.
"He’ll show more speed than he did in his last race," Ellis said. "He can lay close to the pace, but in his maiden win, he ended up pretty far behind. I certainly don’t expect him to be up on the lead. I would suspect he’d be about five, six lengths behind early.”
The West's also have Title Contender, formerly in the Bob Baffert barn. Baffert trains Flashback and Code West for the couple. After Title Contender finished second to Rebel runner Carve in an allowance race on Southwest Stakes day, he was transferred to the barn of Wayne Catalano and has put in a couple of workouts at Fair Grounds. Title Contender could be battling with Baffert's Super Ninety Nine on the front end of the Rebel field.
By Dick Downey with other content from Oaklawn Park