Game Winner Leads One, Improbable the Other
By Dick Downey
Two divisions of the Rebel Stakes will be led by 2-year-old champion Game Winner in one and Improbable in the other. The two horses, both trained by Bob Baffert, are generally considered the highest rated 3-year-olds in the nation.
Following the cancellation of the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita after multiple equine casualties, which was followed by an in-house investigation of the condition of the track, the Rebel Stakes became the go-to Kentucky Derby points race for many California-based 3-year-olds, and they arrived at the track in Hot Springs, Ark. this morning.
Under rules of the Oaklawn Park Racing Office, during today's draw horses with common ownership and/or common trainers were not placed in the same division. Thus, Game Winner and Improbable landed in separate divisions; Jerry Hollendorfer trainees Gunmetal Gray and Galilean are in separate divisions, Richard Mandella trainees Omaha Beach and Extra Hope landed in different divisions.
Steve Asmussen entered six in the Rebel, and two of them (Long Range Toddy, Ninth Street) wound up in one division, with four (Laughing Fox, Jersey Agenda, Kaziranga and Captain Von Trapp) in the other.
Gunmetal Gray has experience in stakes races for Hollendorfer, winning the American Pharoah Stakes, running fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, winning the Sham Stakes and finishing second in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Galilean, a California-bred son of Uncle Mo, easily won the restriced California Cup Derby in his last start and will face open stakes company for the first time.
Mandella's Extra Hope was last seen impressively winning an allowance race on a sloppy track at Santa Anita, while Omaha Beach broke his maiden impressively at the same track in his most recent start.
The Asmussen horses with the best resumes are Long Range Toddy, who finished second in the Smarty Jones Stakes and third in the Southwest Stakes; and Laughing Fox, an impressive allowance winner last time out.
Easy Shot and Parsimony are the other California invaders. The former finished third in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in his last start for trainer Keith Desormeaux, and the latter is a seven-race maiden trained by Doug O'Neill that finished second in his first two starts and his last two starts.
Our Braintrust, trained by Mark Casse, is the sole Florida-based entry. He was last seen finishing third behind Tax and Not That Brady in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.
The complete Rebel Stakes fields in post position order, with jockeys:
1 Extra Hope (Mike Smith)
2 Long Range Toddy (Jon Court)
3 Corruze (Stewart Elliott)
4 Easy Shot (Richard Eramia)
5 Proud Nation (David Cabrera)
6 Ninth Street (Ricardo Santana, Jr.)
7 Classy John (David Cohen),
8 Galilean (Flavien Prat)
9 Improbable (Drayden Van Dyke)
Galilean will carry 122 pounds; Long Range Toddy and Improbable will carry 119 pounds; all others will carry 117 pounds. Blinkers off: Ninth Street.
1 Market King (John Velazquez)
2 Laughing Fox (Ricardo Santana, Jr.)
3 Parsimony (Mario Gutierrez)
4 Jersey Agenda (Jose Ortiz)
5 Game Winner (Joel Rosario)
6 Omaha Beach (Mike Smith)
7 Our Braintrust (David Cohen)
8 Gunmetal Gray (Flavien Prat)
9 Kaziranga (Richard Eramia)
10 Captain Von Trappe (Ramon Vazqez)
Gunmetal Gray will carry 122 pounds; Laughing Fox, Game Winner and Captain Von Trappe will carry 119 pounds; all others will carry 117 pounds. Blinkers on: Our Braintrust, Parsimony.
The original announced purse of the Rebel Stakes was $1,000,000. Purses for the split divisions are $750,000 each. The original Kentucky Derby point structure was 50 - 20 - 10 -5 to the top four finishers. The revised Derby points to be awarded in each of the divisions are 37.5 - 15 - 7.5 - 3.75 for each race.
The first division (Improbable et al) of the Rebel Stakes is set on Saturday's card as race 8 with a post time of 5:57 ET. The other division (Game Winner et al) is carded as race 10 with a post time of 7:06 ET.