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Rebel Stakes Picks and Betting Preview: Will Silver Prospector Beat the Odds at Oaklawn?

Rebel Stakes Picks and Betting Preview: Will Silver Prospector Beat the Odds at Oaklawn? article feature image

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images.

While the rest of the sports world is on a hiatus due to COVID-19, the Sport of Kings has an action-packed Saturday in store. Two of the races have big implications, as they are part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

2020 Rebel Stakes Picks and Betting Preview

First up, is the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, set for a 6:23pm EST post time. The Rebel, which will have 8 runners, is the 10th race on the card and will be run over the main track at a distance of one mile and 1/16th.

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The winner will receive 50 points and most likely guarantee himself a spot in the starting gate the first Saturday of May and is the final prep race at Oaklawn before the Arkansas Derby. The forecast is calling for rain, starting the morning and continuing throughout the day, most likely making for a sloppy race track.

The Favorite

The biggest name in the race is No. 1 Nadal (5-2). He was purchased last year for $700K and is trained by one of the leading trainers in the world Bob Baffert and will be ridden by Joel Rosario.

Baffert has won the Rebel a record six times, all coming in a seven-year span from 2010-2016. Nadal is shipping in from California where he is 2-for-2 over a fast main track at Santa Anita. Breaking his maiden in his debut in a professional manner, Nadal took a big step up in his second start in the San Vincente (G2) Stakes in early February, pulling away in the final strides to score by three-quarters of a length.

The Rebel Stakes, though, presents a number of firsts for Nadal; his first route race, first start at a track other than Santa Anita, and most likely, his first over a sloppy race track. Any one of these firsts would be a lot to overcome for the lightly raced son of Blame, but needing to overcome all three at once might just be too tall of an order, so I’m going to take a stand and bet against the morning line favorite.

The Contenders

The other California invader is No. 8 American Theorem (6-1). If the name sounds familiar, it’s because he is the son of Triple Crown winner, and Rebel Stakes winner, American Pharoah. After breaking his maiden in his first start at Del Mar, American Theorem, ran took a big step up in class to run in the race named after his sire; the Grade 1 American Pharoah at Santa Anita back at the end of September. He ran second to Eight Rings and finished ahead of the Breeders Cup Juvenile champ, Storm the Court.

American Theorem is trained by George Papaprodromou and will have Tiago Pereira aboard. Unlike Nadal, this will not be his first route, but he does have a number of firsts playing against him as well; the first start of his three-year-old campaign, first start coming off a five-month layoff, first start outside of California and again, most likely his first start on a sloppy track.

We know that American Pharoah could win over the slop, but his offspring are only winning at a 14% clip in their mud starts. American Theorem is a bet against for me.

Jeremiah Englehart will send out No. 6 Three Technique (7-2) and jockey Luis Saez makes the trip over from Florida for the mount. Three Technique has two wins and three second-place finishes from five career starts, over four different tracks.

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And while he has been the favorite in all five career starts, it did take him three starts to break his maiden. In his most recent start, he finished second in the Smarty Jones right here at Oaklawn over a muddy track. While Englehart’s starters are winning 21% of the time from 2019-2020, only 8% of his graded stakes starters cross the wire in front.

Additionally, Saez is known as an aggressive rider, who typically wants to be on or close to the lead. Looking at the work tab, Three Technique fired off a bullet workout on February 29th at Oaklawn, going 4F in a blazing 46 seconds flat, best of 122 horses that trained at that distance that day.

I will be including him in multi-race wagers and will be using him underneath in exotics.

Next, we have No. 3 Basin (3-1) for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Javier Castellano. Basin is 2-for-3 lifetime, winning his last start, the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga back on September 2nd.

While this will be the first start off a layoff, the first start of his three-year-old campaign and the first at a route distance, the Hopeful, was run over a sloppy track; one in which Basin drew clear by 6.5 lengths. The win over the sloppy track should come as no surprise as the colt was sired by Liam’s Map, whose offspring win at 37% in their mud starts.

Another factor in Basin’s favor, is that he beat Three Technique. In his 3 starts, he has been an average of two lengths back at first call, which is important to note because of the 40 races run at this distance, during this meet, the winners average position at first call has been 2.7 lengths.

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While Basin has a lot going for him, Asmussen turns to Castellano, rather than his top jock Ricardo Santana Jr, who rode Basin his first two starts before handing over the reins to Jose Ortiz for the Hopeful. Moreover, Santana Jr has a mount in the Rebel and it’s with one of the other Asmussen horses, Silver Prospector.

All of that said, I will be including Basin in my bets.

Finally, we will take a look at the previously mentioned, No. 4 Silver Prospector (7-2). The Hall-of-Famer, Asmussen will pair up with the meet’s leading jock, Santana Jr. The two have teamed up 131 times in the last 60 days, winning at a 21% clip. As for Silver Prospector, he is not a lightly-raced horse, having 8 starts, 3 of them being wins, under his belt.

One of those three wins came in his most recent start in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes, right here at Oaklawn Park. The Southwest was Silver Prospector’s second start of his three-year-old campaign and second off the layoff. He has won both starts over this distance of one mile and 1/16th.

Additionally, he has two starts over an off track winning one, which was the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. Interestingly enough, other than his maiden victory, the other two wins of Silver Prospector’s career have been against graded stakes company.

If you’re looking for an angle against him, it would have to be the number of starts he has under his belt at this point, but that may be a bigger issue come the Kentucky Derby.

He is my top pick for the Rebel Stakes.

[Bet now at TVG]

Oaklawn Park Undercard

Now let’s take a look at the undercard at Oaklawn.

The Grade 2 Azeri Stakes, which is the ninth race on the card, has a field of seven, four of which have raced against one another multiple times. My top pick is No. 4 Lady Apple (5-2). She is trained by Asmussen and Santana Jr. will be aboard. She is also a perfect 3-for-3 over the Oaklawn track and a perfect 5-for-5 at the distance. In addition, in her last start, Lady Apple was able to beat four others who are also running in the Azeri.

The morning line favorite, No. 5 Serengeti Empress (9-5), is the classiest horse in the race, but hasn’t won since the Kentucky Oaks last May. She is trained by Thomas Amoss, who only has a 9% winning percentage in graded stakes races. Joe Talamo will get the call for the first time. Because of these factors, Serengeti Empress is a toss for me.

No. 2 Mylady Curlin (4-1) is another horse that I will include in my bets. Trained by Brad Cox with Joel Rosario aboard, Mylady Curlin didn’t have anything coming for home in her last start. She has a win, a second and a third from three career starts at Oaklawn Park. Since her last race, she posted a bullet 5F work in 59.8 seconds. Mylady Curlin also has experience over an off track, winning one of two starts and with her being sired by Curlin, we know she can handle the surface.

The other horse who has run against this group of fillies is No. 1 Street Band (3-1). She is a toss for me primarily because her two most recent stakes wins came against lesser competition at Parx and Indiana Grand.

Now that we have looked at the two graded stakes races on the card, we will dive into the last stakes race, although it’s a non-graded stakes race.

The Essex Handicap Stakes is the 8th race on the card, has a field of seven and will be run at one mile and 1/16th. I’m going to take the horse who is the speed, and most likely will go to the front, No. 7 Pioneer Spirit (3-1) and the closer No. 4 Bankit (5-2).

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First let’s look at Pioneer Spirit. She was claimed four starts back and is now in the barn of the meet’s leading trainer, Robertino Diodoro. David Cohen gets the mount, who has ridden him in two of his three starts since the claim.

His first start off the claim, Pioneer Spirit was able to get the win over a sloppy race track. In his most recent start, he finished fourth after being pressed by the eventual winner Warriors Charge.

Bankit, the morning line favorite, is trained by Asmussen and ridden by, yep you guessed it, Santana Jr. Bankit just missed in his last two starts, losing both by just a head. As mentioned, he will get the pace to run into with Pioneer Spirit going to the lead. The question is, will he be able to close over the off track.

He proved two starts back, that he’s capable, now the question is can he get his nose down at the wire. Other than the trainer jock combo working in his favor, he also has one win and one second from three starts over the distance.

[Bet now at TVG]

Oaklawn Picks

Race 8: No. 7 Pioneer Spirit, No. 4 Bankit
Race 9: No. 4 Lady Apple, No. 2 Mylady Curlin
Race 10: No. 4 Silver Prospector, No. 3 Basin, No. 6 Three Technique

Oaklawn Bets 

Race 8 Exacta Box: 4, 7
Race 8/9 Double:  4,7 WITH 2,4
Pick 3 (Races 8,9,10): 4,7/2,4/3,4,6
Race 9 Exacta Box: 2,4
Race 9/10 Double: 2,4 WITH 3,4,6
Race 10 Exacta: 4 WITH 3,6
Race 10: No. 4 to Win

[Bet now at TVG]

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