Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher know something about shipping horses to Oaklawn Park for 3-year-old stakes and the top trainers will be looking to capture Saturday’s $900,000 Rebel (G2) with American Anthem and Malagacy, respectively. The promising colts are among 11 runners in the 1 1/16-mile race.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Rebel awards points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers.
American Anthem won first time out at Del Mar in early December and came back to record a commendable second in the January 7 Sham (G3) at Santa Anita, missing by only a head to a much more seasoned foe in Grade 1 winner Gormley. The Bodemeister colt will return off a 70-day freshening with Mike Smith and shows a pair of bullet 6-furlong workouts in preparation.
Baffert has won three straight and six of the last seven editions of the Rebel.
Malagacy brings a 2-for-2 mark into his stakes debut, registering a 104 BRIS Speed rating for a 15-length maiden tally and a 103 Speed figure for a seven-length allowance score at Gulfstream Park most recently. By Shackleford, the chestnut colt brings good speed to his two-turn bow and retains the services of Javier Castellano.
Pletcher sent One Liner from South Florida to win the February 20 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn.
Other shippers include Royal Mo, who will step up to face better company following a victory in the February 4 Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita; and Untrapped, who exits a pair of runner-up finishes in the Risen Star (G2) and Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds.
Petrov is a top contender among the local contingent. Trained by Ron Moquett, the son of Flatter has never finished worse than second in four career starts, including runner-up efforts in the Southwest and Smarty Jones at Oaklawn. Jose Ortiz will be in for the mount.
A 5 ¼-length winner of the Smarty Jones in mid-January, Uncontested faltered as the even-money Southwest favorite, retreating to sixth after setting the pace. He was expected to skip the Rebel but trained himself into the race for Wayne Catalano, posting a couple of sizzling works in advance, and the Tiz Wonderful colt looks like the inside speed from post 2 with Channing Hill.
Lookin at Lee and Silver Dust, third and fourth in the Southwest, will also return for the contentious event.
(Petrov working for Rebel courtesy of Coady Photography)