The penultimate stepping stone on Arkansas’ Kentucky Derby trail, the Grade II, $900,000 Rebel Stakes, takes place this Saturday at Oaklawn Park. There’s 50 Derby points available to the winner, down to five points for finishing fourth. A field of 11 will be led to the gate at approximately 7:09 p.m. EST for this 1 1/16-mile test. The Rebel goes as the finale on a 10-race program. Don’t forget to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#3 SOLOMINI (3-2, morning-line favorite) makes his first start since being controversially DQ’d out of a win in the Los Alamitos Futurity last December. He is the one to beat on speed figures and is eligible to improve in his first start at three. He’s also shown plenty of class, hitting the board in all three stakes starts to date. Bob Baffert has SOLOMINI training exceptionally and Flavien Prat ships in for the assignment.
#4 MAGNUM MOON (7-2) makes his stakes debut off two open-length wins for Todd Pletcher and Luis Saez. He went backwards in the speed figure department when he made his first start around two turns last time out, but he wasn’t asked for much against just four opponents at Tampa Bay Downs. His pedigree says he can handle these kinds of races, and he continues to drill sharply going into the Rebel. MAGNUM MOON was Saez’s choice over SPORTING CHANCE.
#10 COMBATANT (8-1) has settled for second in each of his last three starts. He took a step in the wrong direction in the Southwest last time out but may not have cared for the muddy track that day. He should get a drier track to work with this Saturday in the Rebel, but he needs to overcome his ‘seconditis’ while facing classier foes than he’s used to. Ricardo Santana Jr. maintains the mount for Steve Asmussen.
#7 SPORTING CHANCE (5-1) was a distant third behind COMBATANT in the Southwest but raced like he needed one in his first effort since September. He should run better with the rust shaken off but Saez landing elsewhere raises an eyebrow. However, John Velazquez will climb aboard for Hall-of-Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Note SPORTING CHANCE’s bullet tune-up work.
The play: $5 exacta 3/4, $3 exacta 4/3, $2 exacta 3,4/10 ($12)
DFJ analysis: Luis Saez should have a solid Saturday despite having just four mounts at Oaklawn. Twist Off (3-1, morning-line favorite) gets his day started in Race 4. Later on, he’ll have Leofric (4-1) in the Essex Stakes. Finally, Saez has the mount on key Rebel contender MAGNUM MOON.
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