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Concert Tour, Hozier Back In California After Rebel
Concert Tour (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Concert Tour, Hozier Back In California After Rebel

HOT SPRINGS, ARConcert Tour and Hozier flew back to their Southern California base Sunday, a day after finishing 1-2, respectively, in Oaklawn’s $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds, continuing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s stranglehold on the major Kentucky Derby prep race.

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Both horses exited the 1 1/16-mile Rebel in good order, Baffert’s main assistant Jimmy Barnes said Sunday morning outside the Royal Glint barn, which house horses for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Baffert’s horses normally ship into Lukas’ barn at Oaklawn.

Concert Tour ($5.40) remained unbeaten in 3 lifetime starts with a front-running 4 1/4-length victory under regular rider Joel Rosario. It was Baffert’s record-extending eighth Rebel victory and 16th in a Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race at Oaklawn – all since 2010.

“To me, it was kind of an American Pharoah-type run,” Baffert, via phone, told Oaklawn’s media department about 20 minutes following the race. “He was doing it with ease, with plenty left.”

American Pharoah, of course, is the measuring stick for Baffert’s growing list of Rebel winners, taking the 2015 edition by 6 1/4 front-running lengths in his 3-year-old debut before sweeping the Triple Crown. Baffert also won the Rebel in 2010 (Lookin At Lucky), 2011 (The Factor), 2012 (Secret Circle), 2014 (Hoppertunity), 2016 (Cupid), and 2020 (Nadal).

Baffert has had at least one Rebel starter every year since his first in 2010 and has compiled an 8-4-1 mark from 15 starters, with his horses earning an eye-popping $3.971 million in prize money.

“It’s amazing,” Barnes said. “Our horses, they suit this track. They run well over it. We just took it to them yesterday, early. If they were going to beat us, they were going to have to pass us.”

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Concert Tour, who was making his two-turn debut, was able to clear speedy even-money favorite Caddo River from post 7 going into the first turn and set comfortable fractions of :23.42 for the opening 1/4-mile, :47.53 for a 1/2-mile, and 1:12 for 3/4. Caddo River, after breaking from the rail, was glued to Concert Tour’s flank on the outside down the backstretch and made a bid for the lead late on the second turn, but Concert Tour had another gear, opened up 4 lengths in midstretch, and coasted home under little urging.

Winning time over a fast track was 1:43.18.

“Very confident,” Rosario said. “I just looked at his ears and knew he was very happy what he was doing. Every time that horse came to him, he just took off. Very nice horse.”

Concert Tour, a homebred for Gary and Mary West, received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 94 – equaling a career-high – for his Rebel victory. The son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense also received a 94 Beyer for his 1/2-length victory in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes (G2) February 6 at Santa Anita in his previous start.

Concert Tour earned 50 points for his Rebel victory to vault to #4 on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, according to Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters, with starting preference given to horses with the highest point totals earned in designated races like the Rebel. Hozier, exiting a February 15 maiden victory at Santa Anita, is #12 with 20 points. The Rebel was Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race.

“These horses are just starting to come around at the right time,” Baffert said. “That’s what you want.”

Baffert was noncommittal on whether Concert Tour and/or Hozier would return to Oaklawn for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 10. Baffert has won the Arkansas Derby three times – Bodemeister in 2012, American Pharoah in 2015, and last year’s second division with Nadal.

“We’ll get them back here and see how they are,” Baffert said. “I don’t make that call until about two weeks before.”

The presence of another top prospect in Baffert’s barn, Life Is Good, will undoubtedly impact the decision. Life Is Good, like Concert Tour, is 3-for-3, a 2-time graded stakes winner, and bred by the Wests.  

“It’s a good problem to have,” Barnes said.

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