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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

American Pharoah 1-2 in Short Rebel Field


Saturday's Rebel Stakes worth $750,000 drew only seven runners during the end of a winter season that hasn't been conducive for daily training at Oaklawn.

American Pharoah comes in from Santa Anita and is 1-2 on the morning line. He will undoubtedly go postward as the favorite shooting for 50 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. Second through fourth places will get 20, 10 and five points. At this point American Pharaoh is 17th in the rankings with 10 Derby points, Bold Conquest has seven, The Truth or Else has six, and none of the remaining entries is on the leaderboard.

American Pharoah, a son of Pioneerof the Nile, will be partnered with regular rider Victor Espinoza in his first start since winning the FrontRunner Stakes on September 27. The colt won that race and the Del Mar Futurity easily and in front-running style, but trainer Bob Baffert said that may not be the case on Saturday.

“I’ll leave it up to Victor,” said Baffert, who has won the Rebel four times since 2010. “He knows the horse. He’s a fast horse, but he puts him in a place where he’s comfortable. He’s not a speed freak and he’s not rank. He still needs to break well and get around there. A lot is expected of this horse, but he hasn’t run in a while, although we feel confident he’s going to run well.”

American Pharoah arrived at Oaklawn early Wednesday afternoon after an uneventful flight. He settled into his new surroundings in the company of assistant trainer Jim Barnes.

“It was an easy trip,” said Barnes. “(He) will have a light day tomorrow and will just go out in the morning for a light one-mile gallop to get a feel for the track.”

The colt completed major preparations for the Rebel with a swift workout Friday at Santa Anita. In company, he breezed six furlongs from the gate in 1:10.40 and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:22.80 under Martin Garcia.

Steve Asmussen, who has captured the Oaklawn leading trainer title six times, will saddle Bold Conquest in the Rebel. Bold Conquest worked four furlongs Tuesday in :49.04 on a muddy track and will be ridden in the Rebel by Oaklawn’s leading rider Ricardo Santana, Jr.

“I’m excited to be back on Tapiture,” said Santana who rode Tapiture in last year’s Rebel, when they finished second after winning the Southwest Stakes.

Trainer Kenny McPeek returns Southwest Stakes runner-up The Truth or Else in the Rebel and likes his post position 1.

"Last time in the Southwest we were parked about nine wide into the first turn with The Truth or Else,” McPeek said.

Madefromlucky (post 2) arrived at Oaklawn Wednesday morning from Todd Pletcher's operation at Palm Beach Downs.

“(He) shipped very well and (is( settling in just fine,” said Pletcher assistant Adele Bellinger. She will take Madefromlucky onto the track on Thursday morning for a light gallop. Madefromlucky, a son of 2010 Rebel and Preakness Stakes winner Lookin at Lucky, will have the services of John Velazquez.

Trainer Ron Moquett said he can think of about 750,000 reasons for entering Sakima (post 7), in the Rebel.

“With Brandi out, that only leaves one big horse,” said Moquett. “Sure, Pharoah looks tough, but what if he stumbles? The field is small and the money is right. That is why we run the race.”

Tim Martin sends out Tizwonderfulcreek (post 3) for his first try at stakes company, and he said he feels like the colt hasn’t gotten to showcase his full ability just yet.

“He’s a decent little horse, he ran fourth in his last race and he never gave up and was running really hard there at the end," Martin said. "We know we are in real tough in this race, but he looks like he is getting better and better. We’ll see what happens. He went two miles this morning and the last half letting him run. After his last race here, I took him to the farm and freshened him up a little bit for a week and half. He will walk tomorrow.”

Paid Admission (Post 6) will try stakes company for the second time after a seventh-place finish in the Smarty Jones Stakes in January.

“This colt is an improving colt and being that it’s going to be a short field we thought we would take a shot at it,” said trainer Chris Richard. “There are some serious horses in there, but I felt that he deserved a shot. He’s last race was very good, where he finished second to (Hillbilly Royalty) and his Beyer Figures have improved with every race. This seemed like a good opportunity to take a shot once again at stakes company.”

Take Charge Brandi will undergo surgery to repair a non-displaced bone chip in her right knee at Rood & Riddle Clinic in Lexington, Ky. on Thursday morning.

Trainer Wayne Lukas said that he expects the filly to return to his stable at Oaklawn on Saturday.

“She’s only going to be out for 60 days. The prognosis is 100 percent for her to come back, so we’re looking at May 15,” said Lukas. “She’s been as clean as a hound’s tooth, up to now. She’s been an unbelievably maintenance free racehorse in every way, and I think this little setback will let her mature and grow a bit. I’m looking at it positively.

Edited Oaklawn Park releases with additional content by Dick Downey


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