Richard Linihan: Baffert eyes 4th straight Rebel win
BY RICHARD LINIHAN Horse Racing
Saturday, March 16, 2013
3/16/13 at 6:04 AM
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is to Oaklawn Park what the Miami Heat has become to the National Basketball Association.
You just can't beat them.
Baffert is looking to win his fourth Rebel Stakes in a row at Oaklawn on Saturday, and he has two chances.
The Oaklawn oddsmaker says it should be a romp for Baffert just as it was in the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 18 when Super Ninety Nine won by 11 1/4 lengths.
This 3-year-old son of Pulpit, who is trying to make his way to the Kentucky Derby, has been made the 3-2 favorite to win the Grade 2 $600,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn.
He retains rider Rafael Bejarano, one of the best in the country, looking for a repeat of that wire-to-wire effort. But it won't be easy. Super Ninety Nine will be running the same distance, 1 1/16 miles, in the Rebel as he did in the Southwest, but will be breaking from the outside, No. 11 post position. He broke from the 6 hole in the Southwest.
Only one of 19 horses that broke from the 11 hole this year in route races at Oaklawn have been able to win from there.
This is no ordinary horse, however. He has Pulpit and A.P. Indy on top in his pedigree and Unbridled's Song on bottom. That gives him an excellent combination of stamina and speed.
On top of that, his dam (mother) won multiple grade 1 races in her career.
Baffert also sends out Den's Legacy, a horse that has been first or second in seven of 10 starts.
Another Hall of Fame trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, will line up with a pair.
Lukas has Will Take Charge and Oxbow in the Rebel.
Going into Saturday's races, there are four horses entered in the Rebel Stakes that are currently in the top 20 in the Kentucky Derby point standings, with Oxbow being the highest at No. 12 with 16 points.
He is followed by Den's Legacy, Super Ninety Nine and Will Take Charge, all tied for 15th place with 10 points.
The Rebel is worth 50 points to the winner of the race and 85 points total will be doled out to the top runners.
Currently at the top of the standings are Vyjack, Orb, Verrazano and Hear the Ghost, all with 50 points.
Baffert started his current string of three consecutive wins in the Rebel with a victory from Lookin At Lucky in 2010, followed by The Factor in 2011 and Secret Circle last year.
If you're looking for long shot plays, my favorite is on the rail with jockey Corey Nakatani in the irons for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, who sends out Carve, a very lightly raced 3-year-old, but one that is 2-for-2 in his short career, both wins at this distance and both on this racetrack. Nakatani has excelled at Oaklawn and after having ridden only four times there this meet, he has one win and two seconds. Carve, a 15-1 outsider, could be one of those horses that continues to improve as he gets more races under his belt, especially as the races get longer. He has a solid blue-blood pedigree top and bottom for stamina, with Giant's Causeway and A.P. Indy.
Two others that have to be considered are Texas Bling (30-1) and Will Take Charge (15-1). Both come out of the Southwest Stakes in which Super Ninety Nine beat them handily by many lengths, but that was over a sloppy track, and connections have said neither of these horses took well to the off going that day.
If you throw out the Southwest, Will Take Charge and Texas Bling were necks apart in first and second, respectively, in the Smarty Jones Stakes over this track the race before.
Post time for the Rebel Stakes is 5:48 p.m. and can be watched and wagered on at Fair Meadows in Tulsa, 21st Street and Yale Avenue, or in Claremore at Will Rogers Downs.
Original Print Headline: Baffert eyes 4th straight Rebel win
Richard Linihan is the marketing director of Fair Meadows in Tulsa.