Rebel Winners’ Collide in Arkansas Derby – Stakes Analysis with Suggested Plays

BY: JOSHUA PRAIN

March 16, 2019: Jockey Mike Smith, after winning aboard Omaha Beach, in the second leg of the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. ©Justin Manning/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

After a crazy few months of Kentucky Derby prep season, we’ll finally know who’s made it into the 2019 Kentucky Derby field after Saturday. Of course, there will likely be a defection or two in the weeks leading up to the first leg of the Triple Crown, but we can safely begin debating with ourselves and others exactly how we’re going to nail that Derby superfecta this year. This weekends’ Grade 1 Arkansas Derby is the final prep race of the spring and the 1st and 2nd place finishers will likely be guaranteed a spot in the gate.  The disparity in winners this year has created what will likely be a record point minimum needed to get into the Kentucky Derby field.  That means the only horse in this field who has their spot secured is Long Range Toddy who currently sits at #11 on the leaderboard with 53.5 points.  Omaha Beach, Improbable, and Country House all need to run in the trifecta to secure a spot.  The rest of the field needs to run 2nd or better.  The Stakes are higher than ever!

Weather Forecast: Heavy Rains are expected throughout the morning and into the afternoon on Saturday.  I recommend handicapping for an off track.

Race 11 – Arkansas Derby (G1) Post Time – 6:43 PM
Purse $1,000,000. For Three-Year Olds. One and One Eighth Miles
PP Horse A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer ML
1 Improbable (KY) 3/C L J L Ortiz 122 B Baffert 8/5
2 Six Shooter (KY) 3/G L D Cohen 122 P E Holthus 30/1
3 Omaha Beach (KY) 3/C L M E Smith 122 R E Mandella 2/1
4 Tikhvin Flew (KY)  3/C L T Baze 118 S M Asmussen 30/1
5 Laughing Fox (KY) 3/C L R Santana, Jr. 118 S M Asmussen 20/1
6 Gray Attempt (KY) 3/C L S Elliott 122 W H Fires 8/1
7 Galilean (CA) 3/C L F Prat 122 J Hollendorfer 10/1
8 Country House (KY)  3/C L J Rosario 118 W I Mott 12/1
9 One Flew South (KY) 3/C L C H Borel 118 D F O’Neill 50/1
10 Jersey Agenda (KY) 3/C L R A Vazquez 118 S M Asmussen 30/1
11 Long Range Toddy (KY) 3/C L J K Court 122 S M Asmussen 5/1

I thought #3 Omaha Beach ran a very game race when he narrowly beat Game Winner last out in the 2nd division of the Rebel Stakes.  I think he improves off that performance and makes it two for two over the Oaklawn surface.  This horse has improved his beyer numbers in every one of his starts.  The son of War Front has already won over a wet surface and he has two bullet works since his Rebel win.  I expect Mike Smith to be very forwardly placed throughout and a he’ll just be too much for the others at the end.

Bob Baffert puts the blinkers on #1 Improbable for the first time, which isn’t a common move from the Hall of Famer, but his numbers are strong when he does it.  The son of City Zip finished 2nd in the first division of the Rebel Stakes last out after being floated wide for pretty much the entirety of the race.  A wide trip should not be an issue in this race with the rail post positioning.  Jose Ortiz has the mount for the first time after the connections decided to replace Drayden Van Dyke.

I have yet to hop on the bandwagon of #7 Galilean, but he did run better than I had expected in last months first division of the Rebel Stakes and I do believe he is an underneath contender in here.  It was just announced earlier this week that Coolmore Stud has bought into the Uncle Mo colt, so they seem to be sold on his capabilities.  Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has decided to take the blinkers off, which I would expect to put him a little further from the pace than he usually is.  We’ll see how the track is playing early in the day, but I would expect Flavien Prat to still be within striking distance and not too far out of it.

#8 Country House shows up in this spot because his connections believe he is a Kentucky Derby caliber horse, but he failed to pick up enough points after running 4th in the Louisiana Derby.  He doesn’t possess a lot of gate speed which has caused him to find traffic in just about all his starts so far.  I don’t expect his running style to change and unless we get a super-hot pace up front, I think it will be too little too late for the Bill Mott trainee.  He does get a rider change from Saez to Rosario and perhaps Joel can get a little more out of him.

Suggested Plays

 Race 11

 $1 Superfectas

 3 w 1 w 7,8 w ALL = $16

3 w 1 w ALL w 7,8 = $16

3 w 7,8 w 1 w ALL = $16

3 w 7,8 w ALL w 1 = $16

Bonus Play: $.50 Pick 4 (Races 9-12)

ALL w 2,4 w 3 w 3,5,6,7,8,10,11 = $63

Or

ALL w 2,4,10 w 1,3 w 3 = $27

Good luck!

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