Two of California’s budding stars, American Anthem and Royal Mo, invade Hot Springs, Ark. for Saturday’s $900,000 Rebel Stakes (GII) at Oaklawn Park – the lone Championship Series race this weekend on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com.

The Rebel is slated as Race 10 at Oaklawn with a scheduled post time of 7:06 p.m. (all times EDT).

The lucrative 1 1/16-mile race will award 50 points to the winner and 20 to the runner-up. The third and fourth-place finishers will earn 10 and 5 points, respectively. The top point earners in the 37-race Road to the Kentucky Derby series will have preference to compete in the 20-horse Grade I, $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 6.

American Anthem looks to avenge his narrow defeat to Royal Mo’s stable mate Gormley in the Jan. 7 Sham Stakes (GIII) at Santa Anita as the 2-1 morning line favorite. American Anthem’s trainer, Bob Baffert is no stranger to winning the Rebel Stakes, doing so a record six times in the last seven years.

Fellow Californian Royal Mo also made the more than 1,700-mile journey to Oaklawn and is the 9-2 co-third choice on the morning line. Royal Mo was most recently the 3 ½-length victor in the Feb. 4 Robert B. Lewis (GIII) and will mark his trainer John Shirreff’s first start at Oaklawn Park in nearly three years.

The California invaders will have to deal with local-hope Petrov for co-owner and trainer Ron Moquett. Petrov was a game runner-up to One Liner in the Feb. 20 Southwest Stakes (GIII), the local prep for the Rebel.

Other contenders include lightly-raced and undefeated Malagacy for trainer Todd Pletcher, Southwest Stakes fourth-place finisher Silver Dust and Louisiana invader Untrapped, who was most recently the runner-up to Girvin in the Feb. 25 Risen Star (GII) at Fair Grounds.

Elsewhere, no Road to the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series races are scheduled this week. That series resumes with the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park on March 25 and Sunland Park Oaks on March 26.

A trio of Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series races will be staged next week: the UAE Derby (100-40-20-10) and Spiral (50-20-10-5) on March 25 and Sunland Derby (50-20-10-5) on March 26.

#TRENDING
  1. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert boasts an impressive 43-21-7-5 (48.8%) career record in stakes races at Oaklawn Park, including an 8-6-0-1 (75.0%) record in the Rebel. He’s won the Rebel a record six times in the last seven years: Lookin At Lucky (2010), The Factor (2011), Secret Circle (2012), Hoppertunity (2014), American Pharoah (2015) and Cupid (2016). He failed to win in 2013 when Den’s Legacy was third and Super Ninety Nine was fifth.
  2. Past renewals of the Rebel have produced a trio of Kentucky Derby winners: Sunny’s Halo (1982), Smarty Jones (2004) and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015).
  3. Runaway Smarty Jones winner Uncontested, who was beaten 12 ¾ lengths by One Liner when sixth in the Southwest Stakes, will attempt to become the Southwest’s first beaten-favorite to win the Rebel since Dalhart in 1993.
  4. Seven-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher improved his Oaklawn Park career stakes race record to 63-15-12-4 (23.8%) when One Liner won the Feb. 20 Southwest. However, he’s 0-for-4 lifetime in the Rebel: Cayman Cat was fifth in 1999; Purge was second in 2004; Delhomme was 11th in 2013; and Madefromlucky was second in 2015.
  5. Southern California-based trainer John Shirreffs is no stranger to Oaklawn Park. He’s saddled starters in the Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) on six occasions and won the race twice with Zenyatta in 2008 and ’10. He also won the 2008 Oaklawn Handicap (GII) with Tiago. Like Rebel entrant Royal Mo, Zenyatta and Tiago were owned by Jerry and Ann Moss.
  6. Seven of the last nine Rebel Stakes winners have been ship-ins. Five horses are shipping in for Saturday’s race: American Anthem, Malagacy, Royal Mo, Sonneteer, and Untrapped.
  7. It’s all in the family for the jockey-trainer combo of Rebel entrant Uncontested. Jockey Channing Hill is married to trainer Wayne Catalano’s daughter Shelbi.
  8. Five of the last 13 Rebel Stakes winners have gone to become champions: American Pharoah (2015), Will Take Charge (2013), Lookin At Lucky (2010), Curlin (2007), and Smarty Jones (2004).
  9. Mastery, who suffered a condylar fracture to his left front leg while winning Saturday’s San Felipe by 6 ¾ lengths to remain unbeaten in four starts, underwent surgery Monday. He would have been considered as a Kentucky Derby favorite but he is sidelined indefinitely.
  10. Late nominations to the Triple Crown will close Monday. A $6,000 payment must be postmarked by Monday in order for a horse to be eligible for the three-race series. Visit www.thetriplecrown.com for more information.
DOWN THE STRETCH

Today (Friday) marks 50 days until Kentucky Derby 143 on the first Saturday in May. … Early Kentucky Derby favorites Classic Empire , last year’s champion 2-year-old male, and unbeaten McCraken breezed last weekend at Palm Meadows training center in south Florida following recent setbacks. Both colts are targeting the April 8 Blue Grass. … Trainer Todd Pletcher will firm up his final Derby prep plans for Always Dreaming, Battalion Runner, One Liner and Tapwrit following Saturday workouts at Palm Beach Downs. … Uncontested’s ownership group of Harry Rosenblum and Bob Lapenta are trying to qualify a horse in the Kentucky Derby for the third-straight year. They previously qualified Far Right , 15th in 2015, and Whitmore, 19th in 2016. … Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens picked up the mount on long shot Appalachian Gem in Saturday’s Rebel. Stevens, 53, returned to the saddle March 7 following hip replacement surgery in December. … Trainer Kenny McPeek plans to enter a trio of Triple Crown nominees in upcoming preps: Oxford Lane in the March 26 Sunland Derby, Senior Investment in the April 1 Louisiana Derby and It’s Your Nickel in the April 8 Blue Grass. He also has Brazilian Group 1-winner Vettori Kin (BRZ) on course for the March 25 UAE Derby but the colt is a Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old, which is considered to be a 4-year-old in North America and therefore ineligible for the Kentucky Derby. … The Todd Pletcher-trained Master Plan, winner of the $100,000 OBS Championship on Jan. 24, was flown to Dubai on Tuesday to compete in the UAE Derby. … Churchill Downs Racing Club ’s Spendthirft Farm Stallion Stakes winner Warrior’s Club is entered in a one-mile, first-level allowance on Saturday at Oaklawn Park (Race 2 at 2:38 p.m. ET) against seven rivals, including Smarty Jones third Rowdy the Warrior . A good effort by Warrior’s Club, a 3-year-old son of Warrior’s Reward, could propel him to a race during the Keeneland Meet, according to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. … Oaklawn’s allowance for 3-year-olds lured 17 entrees, which means the race was split. The second division (Race 6 at 4:45 p.m. ET) includes Greeley and Ben, who looks to make his 3-year-old debut for trainer Gary Thomas after breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs on Nov. 13. … The Churchill Downs stable area and Trackside Louisville, Churchill Downs’ satellite training center located five miles away, will reopen Monday. Training will begin Wednesday from 6-8 a.m. Training hours will be extended to 10 a.m. once the horse population warrants the change. … Today (Friday) is the final day to nominate and/or vote for one of the 143 breast and ovarian cancer survivors to participate in the ninth annual Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade presented by Kroger. Visit www.kentuckyderby.com/survivors.

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