The second step in the triumvirate of Derby prep races in Arkansas (Southwest, Rebel, Ark. Derby) takes place on Saturday with the Grade 2 $300,000 Rebel Stakes. It actually follows what promises to be an outstanding version of the Grade 3 Azeri with Blind Luck and Havre De Grace continuing what is currently the best rivalry in racing. Thirteen horses entered the Rebel for Saturday, but I believe there are going to be a couple of scratches after listening to "At The Races with Steve Byk" today. Nevertheless, we press on with the analysis:
I will put the California "invader", #5 JP's Gusto, in the top spot for this one. He ran second after a bit of a troubled trip in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, finishing behind Archarcharch. This will be his second start of 2011 and he comes in off of a five furlong bullet work of 59 2/5 seconds on March 13 over this track. Ramon Dominguez will likely be itching to get another Derby ride after what happened with Brethren last weekend in Tampa Bay. I will go with #9 Sway Away in the place position with Garrett Gomez getting aboard once again. Gomez was up for the second in the Grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita last time out on February 20, when this horse narrowly lost to The Factor (who I will get to in a moment). You want a fast workout? How about seven furlongs in 1:23 3/5? That's not fast, that's ridiculous. The Sire, Afleet Alex, should have won the Triple Crown in 2005. We will have to see about Sway Away. The longshot I like in here, #2 Alternation, will go third. This colt is one of two Donnie Von Hemel trainees in this race and he is undefeated when paired with Luis Quinonez. Of course, this is the first step up to the bigtime, but he is 2 for 2 at Oaklawn Park this meeting. The 12-1 morning line certainly doesn't hurt either. Finally, we come to #6 The Factor. I think he is clearly the fastest horse in the race. I also just as clearly don't think he can go this far. There really isn't anything in the pedigree to suggest the distances he will be facing if he continues forward on the Road To The Roses. I know, Bob Baffert can be a miracle worker. This one might just take Edmund Gwenn in his Santa Claus suit and moving the race to Macy's on 34th Street to make me a believer. Here is the play for the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes:
$5 WPS #5
$2 EX BOX 2-5-9
$2 TRI BOX 2-5-9
The blog is clearly taking on water after a couple of weeks of hitting nothing (and not liking it). Right now, we are MINUS $102 for the year. Therefore, we really need to get a winner here. Remember, They Are Off does not accept any responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!