With $900,000 in purse money and 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (G1) on the line to the winner in Saturday's Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, it is no surprise the 1 1/16-mile classic prep has attracted a full field of 14.
Half the field is exiting Oaklawn's previous prep, the Southwest (G3), including the winner Suddenbreakingnews. Forced to take back and trail a field of 14 in that February 15 heat due to a wide draw, the Mineshaft gelding nonetheless made up 15 lengths with a wide, circling rally that ended with a 2 3/4-length triumph. Suddenbreakingnews might have to replicate that feat in the Rebel as he drew post 14 for Saturday's race.
Also lining up are the Southwest runner-up, Whitmore, and third-place finisher American Dubai. Whitmore endured a rougher trip than the winner, but still turned in effective rally from near the back to earn the place. American Dubai was more favorably placed than the top pair, stalking in second behind pacesetting Siding Spring. Taking the lead from that rival in upper stretch, he weakened in the final furlong when unable to contain the closing bids of the top two.
Also returning from the Southwest are Discreetness, who had previously won the Springboard Mile and Smarty Jones but was not a factor in a wide effort, and Cutacorner, who was interfered with by Z Royal in the first turn.
Invading from California are Cupid, a recent maiden winner by more than five lengths for five-time Rebel-winning trainer Bob Baffert, and the Doug O'Neill-trained Ralis, who captured the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga last summer but went unplaced in his final two starts of the season.
Others of note are Cherry Wine, a blowout winner of his last two starts for Dale Romans, and Madtap, who enters off a six-length allowance win for Steve Asmussen. Both colts are making their stakes debut in the Rebel.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Series, the top four place getters earn qualifying points of 50-20-10-5.