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Eastward Stampede Could Cause Rebel To Split

Eastward Stampede Could Cause Rebel To Split

A day after news broke that Santa Anita Park had canceled racing indefinitely, Oaklawn Park announced that it is prepared to split the Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 16, should at least 20 horses enter the race.

The Rebel carries a purse of $1 million and awards Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis. The status of the San Felipe Stakes (G2), which was scheduled for March 9 at Santa Anita Park, is currently up in the air but will likely be canceled this year. The San Felipe was set to award points on the same level as the Rebel.

Kentucky Derby Contenders

However, if the Rebel is split into two divisions, each race will carry a reduced purse of $750,000 and only offer 63.75 total Kentucky Derby points (presumably on a 37.5-15-7.5-3.75 basis).

Splitting races at Oaklawn Park is not completely without precedent. The Southwest Stakes (G3), a precursor to the Rebel, was run in two divisions in 2012, and 1972.

The deadline for nominating to the Rebel was midnight on March 7, but Racing Secretary Pat Pope said that the deadline is going to be pushed back to midnight, Friday, March 8, according to a track press release.

Shortly after Oaklawn Park made its announcement, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reportedly decided that he plans to ship his pair of undefeated 3-year-olds, Improbable and the Juvenile champion Game Winner, east for the Rebel. The two were set to square off in the San Felipe, but if the Rebel is split, they will compete in separate divisions.

A rumor percolating through the Santa Anita Park backstretch is that Baffert intends to move most, if not all, of his stable to the Hot Springs, Arkansas-based track for the remainder of its meet, which will conclude on May 4, the same day as the Kentucky Derby. We will provide more on this story as it develops.

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