Grade 1 Winner Ralis to Make Seasonal Debut in Rebel
Grade 1 winner Ralis will make his 3-year-old debut in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn, trainer Doug O’Neill said Tuesday night. O’Neill said Mario Gutierrez will have the mount on the Southern California-based colt, who scored his biggest career victory in the $350,000 Hopeful Stakes (G1) Sept. 7 at Saratoga.
Ralis, a son of the O’Neill-trained Square Eddie, hasn’t started since finishing 14th in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Oct. 31 at Keeneland. His only other start after winning the Hopeful was a sixth-place finish, as the favorite, in the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) Oct. 3 at Belmont Park.
“He’s doing really well,” O’Neill said. “We gave him some well-deserved time off after his last couple that he didn’t just fire in and we’re trying to get him back to his Hopeful form, winning a Grade 1 at Saratoga. We’re trying to get back to those days.”
In advance of the Rebel, Ralis has had six published workouts at Santa Anita since Jan. 24, including 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 Friday. O’Neill said the decision to run in the Rebel was made following Ralis’ last work. Ralis will be seeking his first victory around two turns in 1 1/16-mile Rebel.
“After his last breeze, we said: ‘You know what, we think he’s good enough and ready enough to try the Rebel,’” O’Neill said. “We know it’s not going to be an easy race, but we think it’s a great Derby prep. It’s going to be a good test to kind of see where we’re at. If we run good there, we’re on our way to Kentucky.”
O’Neill said Ralis will probably arrive in Hot Springs Tuesday and “more than likely” return for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16, if the colt performs well in the Rebel.
Ralis won 2 of 7 starts last year and earned $272,323.
O’Neill and Ralis’ owner, J. Paul Reddam, campaigned 2012 champion 3-year-old male I’ll Have Another and have unbeaten Nyquist scheduled for his final Kemucky Derby prep in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) April 2 at Gulfstream Park. Nyquist was the country’s champion 2-year-old male.
Looking to the Heavens
WinStar Farm’s Creator, a powerful 7 1/4-length maiden winner Feb. 27 at Oaklawn, will make his next start in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19, WinStar racing manager Elliott Walden said Tuesday afternoon.
Creator, a gray son of Tapit, finished second in four of his first five career starts for trainer Steve Asmussen before his breakthrough victory last month in his Oaklawn debut.
A $440,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sales graduate, Creator broke his maiden at 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the Rebel.
“We’ve always liked the horse, and Steve’s always been very high on him,” Walden said. “We were disappointed that he hadn’t gotten his maiden broken yet, but we continued and then when he ran well like that – he has plenty of experience.”
Creator rallied from far back to break his maiden under three-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., who is scheduled to have the mount for the Rebel.
A large field is expected for the Rebel, which Walden said he hopes will benefit the late-running Creator.
“I think he just needs a decent, honest pace in front of him, like he got the other day, and we’ll see what happens,” Walden said.
Walden, as a trainer, won the 1998 Rebel with Victory Gallop. In addition to racing manager, Walden is WinStar’s president and chief executive officer.
Creator worked a half-mile in :51.40 over a fast track Monday morning at Oaklawn.
Projected Rebel starter Gray Sky worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 Monday morning at Oaklawn for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Stablemate Z Royal, who worked a half-mile in :48.40 Monday morning at Oaklawn, is entered in a Saturday allowance/optional claimer, but the Rebel is under consideration, said Justin Zayat, racing and stallion manager for the colt’s owner, Ahmed Zayat.
Another projected Rebel starter, Cherry Wine, worked a half-mile in :47.26 Saturday at Gulfstream Park for trainer Dale Romans. Like Creator, Cherry Wine will be making his stakes debut in the Rebel, which is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.
No Rebel for Dazzling Gem
Unbeaten Dazzling Gem will miss the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn because of a minor foot problem, trainer Brad Cox said Wednesday morning. Cox said Dazzling Gem, owned by prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers, will now point for the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) March 26 at Fair Grounds.
Cox said Dazzling Gem (2 for 2 at the Oaklawn meet) developed a foot abscess Friday, a problem that forced the colt to miss a scheduled work Saturday morning at Oaklawn. The trainer said the foot was better Wednesday morning, adding the plan is to still run the colt in a major Kentucky Derby prep race.
“It’s just a minor thing,” Cox said. “As well as he’s trained, he deserves a shot.”
Dazzling Gem, a son of Misremembered, won his Jan. 18 career debut, then a Feb. 13 entry-level allowance event. Both races were at Oaklawn and around two turns.
Champion Untapable worked 6 furlongs in 1:13 over a fast track Monday morning at Oaklawn in preparation for her scheduled 5-year-old debut in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 19. Three-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. was aboard for the work that took place about shortly after track opened.
The Tapit mare broke off several lengths behind stablemate Maximian, a 3-year-old male who finished fourth in an entry-level allowance race Feb. 19 at Oaklawn. She easily moved past Maximian on the outside entering the stretch and pulled away through the lane, recording splits of 23.80, 36.20 and 48.60 before galloping out 7 furlongs in 1:25.80, according to Oaklawn lead clocker Jim Hamilton.
Maximian was credited with 5 furlongs in 1:02.20.
“The key is she worked well,” trainer Steve Asmussen said.
Asmussen said, weather permitting, Untapable will work again Monday morning at Oaklawn.
Florent Geroux is scheduled to ride Untapable in the Azeri, the final major local prep for the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15. She ran second in last year’s Azeri before winning the Apple Blossom. She won an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2014.
There was no training Wednesday at Oaklawn because of heavy rain. … Cosmic Evolution worked an easy half-mile in :52.60 Tuesday morning at Oaklawn in preparation for Saturday’s $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3). Post positions for the Honeybee, the final major local prep for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 9, will be drawn Wednesday. … Multiple stakes winner Ivan Fallunovalot (quarter-crack) walked under tack Tuesday at Oaklawn as he prepares to return to the track for trainer Tom Howard of Hot Springs. Ivan Fallunovalot is pointing for the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10 at Oaklawn. … Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Far Right in the $350,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) March 19 at Oaklawn, trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said. Ortiz is also scheduled to ride Whitmore for Moquett in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19. Far Right worked a half-mile in :50 Sunday morning at Oaklawn. … Looks to Spare worked a half-mile in :49.40 Monday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Otabek Umarov. Looks to Spare is scheduled to make is 6-year-old debut in the Razorback.
Source: Oaklawn Park