The way the Daily Racing Form website is painting the picture the Grade 3 $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park will be the most major of all the major Kentucky Derby prep races. It was revealed today that three-time Derby winning trainer, Bob Baffert, is likely to ship the current Derby favorite, Lookin At Lucky, into Hot Springs for the Rebel rather that run in the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Of course, that is not definite yet but in the Super Six Derby Pix yesterday, I commented that I had believed the plan all along to be that Lookin At Lucky would get shipped out of California and that I didn't think running in the San Felipe was such a good idea. Now that Lookin At Lucky could be shipped to run on conventional dirt as opposed to the Southern California synthetics, this could put him further ahead of everyone else on the Road To The Roses. In case you were concerned about Baffert anyway, don't forget that he did saddle the winner of the Southwest Stakes on Saturday in Conveyance. Baffert is currently saying that Conveyance will skip the Rebel Stakes. All of this will be bad news for the connections of Noble's Promise. He has been unable to defeat Lookin At Lucky when they have met so far and Noble's Promise is also expected in the starting gate for the Rebel. Also, don't forget that D. Wayne Lukas still has Dublin, runner-up to Conveyance in the Southwest, likely to run in the Rebel Stakes as well.
From the local standpoint, meaning my home track of Turf Paradise, Uh Oh Bango is also expected to be heading from Phoenix to Hot Springs to run in the Rebel Stakes. Uh Oh Bango's last race was a second in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot. That result has been magnified by the excellent last race of the horse that beat Uh Oh Bango, Rule. Rule won the Grade 3 Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs and is almost certainly going to be in the gate for the Derby, barring any setbacks for trainer Todd Pletcher.
All this means that the Rebel might give us the clearest picture yet of what we can expect come May 1. There will be contenders and pretenders giving a Billy Idol-esque "Rebel Yell" when the gates open on March 13.
Tune in for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!