The best prep of the Kentucky Derby season so far will take place on Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. There are three total big preps on Saturday, counting the San Felipe at Santa Anita and the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs. The one They Are Off will focus on, though, is the Grade 2 $300,000 Rebel Stakes. This will be the final "official" prep race for the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby coming up on April 10, which is also closing day for the Oaklawn meeting. It will feature a field of seven going 1 1/16 miles.
My top pick in the Rebel will be #6 Noble's Promise, who suffered through a few times in 2009 losing to one of his foes in here, but this will be the first time on dirt for both of the top two selections in here and Noble's Promise actually has a non-synthetic race in his history, a try on turf at Ellis Park last September. It might not make a difference, but it might at that. Robby Albarado gets the call here. #2 Lookin At Lucky will be racing in blinkers for the first time ever today. He has only finished behind one horse in his six-race career, a second to Vale Of York in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. This is the winter favorite for the Derby and there will be a lot of interest in his performance today. Keep in mind, though, that his spot in the gate on May 1 is already secure. I will put #7 Dublin in the third spot. I have said before that if the Kentucky Derby were to take place today, he would be my top pick. He was the runner-up in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on February 20. His Sire, Afleet Alex, had a legitimate case to be a Triple Crown winner in 2005. He made up a ton of ground in the stretch of the Southwest and this race gives him an extra sixteenth. #4 Uh Oh Bango is an Arizona-bred that will be electrifying the grandstand at Turf Paradise on Saturday to be sure. He has never been worse than second in five lifetime performances. He was very close to Rule in the Delta Jackpot and Rule is another one that will be in the gate at Churchill Downs, barring any problems. Here is the play for the Rebel Stakes:
$10 WP #6
Sorry, I just don't see much value in betting any exotics in here and you have to try and beat the likely favorite. Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!