The First Leg of the Championship Series on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” continues Saturday at Oaklawn Park with the $600,000 Rebel (Grade II), which features four horses ranked in the Top 21 in the Point Standings.
Of the four horses ranked in the Top 21, two will be saddled by Hall of Fame trainer and three-time Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Bob Baffert and two will be saddled by Hall of Fame trainer and four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas.
Baffert, who has won the last three runnings of the Rebel and won with 14 of his last 21 starters at Oaklawn, will send out Super Ninety Nine (ranked No. 20 in the Point Standings) and Den’s Legacy (No. 18).
Super Ninety Nine is coming off an 11 ¼-length victory in the Southwest (GIII) in the slop at Oaklawn and Den’s Legacy enters the Rebel off back-to-back runner-up efforts in the Robert B. Lewis (GII) and Sham (GIII) at Santa Anita.
Lukas, who won the 1989 Rebel with Manastash Ridge, will send out Oxbow (No. 12) and Will Take Charge (No. 21). Oxbow, who is out of a full-sister to Hall of Famer Tiznow, won the Lecomte (GIII) by 11 ½ lengths in January and most recently finished fourth in the Risen Star (GII) after leading in deep stretch. Will Take Charge, who won the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn by a neck over Texas Bling (No. 32), finished sixth in the Southwest in his most recent start.
Other top contenders in the Rebel are Delhomme (No. 44) and Treasury Bill.
Delhomme, from the barn of 2010 Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, will make his 3-year-old debut in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel. A Pennsylvania-bred son of Dixie Union, Delhomme would likely earn a spot in the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby with a Rebel win. The last Derby winner that ran in the Rebel is Smarty Jones, who also is the last Pennsylvania-bred to win the “Run for the Roses.”
Treasury Bill, running as an entry with Title Contender, most recently finished second to Shakin It Up in the San Vicente (GII) at Santa Anita and the Rebel will be his first start at two turns. Treasury Bill and Title Contender are owned by Gary and Mary West, who also own San Felipe (GII) runner-up Flashback (No. 5), Risen Star runner-up Code West (No. 11) and FrontRunner (GI) winner Power Broker (No. 19).
The Top 4 finishers in the Rebel, which is scheduled as Race 10 at 6:48 p.m. (all times Eastern), will be awarded points on a 50-20-10-5 scale. The First Leg of the Championship Series will conclude next weekend with the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral (GIII) on Saturday, March 23 and the Sunland Derby (GIII) on Sunday, March 24.
10 THINGS TO WATCH THIS WEEK
1. Super Ninety Nine, 11 ¼-length winner of the Southwest, headlines a field of 11 entered for Saturday’s $600,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park.
2. Four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas, looking to for his fifth Kentucky Derby win, will saddle Oxbow and Will Take Charge for the Rebel.
3. Three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert will saddle Super Ninety Nine and Den’s Legacy for the Rebel. Baffert has won with 14 of his 21 starters at Oaklawn Park since 2010. Thirteen of the 14 wins came in stakes races.
4. Delhomme will try to prove himself as a legitimate Derby contender in the Todd Pletcher barn when he makes his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel.
5. Highestmaintenance, a 6 ¾-length debut winner, makes her stakes debut in Saturday’s Cicada against a field that includes Elghayoor and Railtown Girl, the 1-2 finishers in the Dearly Precious.
6. War Academy, fourth beaten 2 ½ lengths in the San Vicente, returns Friday in Santa Anita’s second race, a 1 1/16-mile allowance.
7. Incognito, who finished just a neck behind impressive Private Terms winner Mr Palmer in his last start, headlines a one-mile maiden race on Saturday at Aqueduct.
8. Zaikov, the first foal out of champion Wait a While, makes his career debut in Friday’s seventh race at Gulfstream Park. Zaikov is Triple Crown nominated.
9. Only in America, a full-brother to Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed, will face Fire Flight, a full-brother to Haskell winner Paynter, in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
10. Phipps Stable’s homebred Magical World, out of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Pleasant Home, makes her career debut in Saturday’s seventh race at Gulfstream Park.