Nadal hops on to Kentucky Derby leaderboard after impressive Rebel win

Mar 16, 2020 Vance Hanson/

The show went on without the crowds at Thoroughbred racetracks last weekend including at Oaklawn Park and Turfway Park, both of which hosted Road to the Kentucky Derby preps.

Nadal jumped up to third place on the leaderboard with an impressive win in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn. After setting a hot, contested pace in the slop, the Bob Baffert-trained colt found more in the stretch to repel the advance of 82-1 longshot Excession, who was the only horse to make a serious rally from behind.

Both colts earned their first Derby qualifying points for the effort, with Nadal virtually assuring himself a spot in the Derby starting gate with the victory.

The other prep, the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway, was contested over the synthetic Polytrack surface and awarded fewer points (20-8-4-2) than the Rebel. Field Pass, whose two previous wins were on the turf, won by a neck, but his 20 points are yet activated as he was not an early nominee to the Triple Crown.

In other developments, Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner King Guillermo has been announced as a supplemental nominee to the Triple Crown, thus the 50 points he earned upsetting the Tampa feature on Mar. 7 became active.

At this writing, racing will continue at many tracks before empty houses, with the feature this coming weekend being the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds over 1 3/16 miles. It's the first Road to the Kentucky Derby with a points allotment of 100-50-20-10, virtually assuring the top two finishers a place in the Derby starting gate.

The overflow field includes Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable; Risen Star (G2) division winner Modernist; Risen Star competitors Major Fed, Ny Traffic, and Silver State; Southwest (G3) runner-up Wells Bayou; and Robert B. Lewis (G3) place-getter Royal Act.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, racing at Sunland Park in New Mexico has been suspended, thus Sunday's Sunland Derby (G3) has been cancelled and is no longer on the Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule.

Fans can still watch and wager at, including Saturday's big 12-race card at Fair Grounds.

(Benoit Photos)

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