A top contender for the Kentucky Derby, Nadal will stretch to two turns and make his start in a Derby qualifier when he lines up for Saturday’s $1 million Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park. The 1 1/16-mile race will award points on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and Nadal will be a prohibitive favorite from the rail post among eight rivals.
By 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Blame, Nadal has the pedigree and physical stature to relish longer distances. He’s generated plenty of excitement winning two starts so far, and is trained by five-time Kentucky Derby victor Bob Baffert. Joel Rosario will retain the mount.
A smashing debut winner at Santa Anita on Jan. 19, Nadal was bet down as the 8-1 choice among individual interests in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager following his victory in the 7-furlong San Vicente (G2) three weeks later. He showed high speed both times, dueling through fast fractions on the lead, and registered a solid 96 Brisnet Speed rating last out. Baffert will remove blinkers for the Rebel, but with little early speed to the colt’s immediate outside in the starting gate, Nadal is eligible to be forward from the break .
Silver Prospector will make his fourth straight appearance in a qualifier, sandwiching wins in the Southwest (G3) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) around a fourth in the Smarty Jones S. He rebounded nicely last time, rallying from just off the pace to post a one-length decision, and netted a career-best 96 Speed rating. Ricardo Santana Jr. has the call on the Steve Asmussen trainee.
Asmussen has a trio entered, including Basin, who will make his first start since rolling to a 6 1/2-length victory in the Hopeful (G1) last summer. A son of Liam’s Map, Basin will bring a two-race win streak to his return and adds the services of Javier Castellano. Excession, who exits a pair of unplaced efforts in Fair Grounds stakes, completes the Asmussen contingent.
No Parole will put his unbeaten record on the line against open rivals for the first time. A Louisiana-bred son of Violence, the Tom Amoss-trained colt has crushed restricted foes on the front end in all three starts, including a 6 1/2-length score in Feb. 8 Premier Prince S. most recently. Joe Talamo takes the mount.
American Theorem, last seen finishing second in the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita in late September, will ship in for George Papaprodromou, and Tiago Pereira will accompany the gray colt. Three Technique will try to improve upon his second in the Smarty Jones with new jockey Luis Saez. Last-out maiden winner Coach Bahe completes the field.
(Photo Credit: Benoit Photo)