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3 Stars of the Week:
-1st Star – Secret Circle (KY) – The worries about this horse getting the Kentucky Derby distance are still legit, but you cannot question this horses heart and talent. For the second straight race Secret Circle had to dig deep in the stretch to fight off a pesky Scatman, and then had to hold off a late charge from Optimizer. It’s clearly obvious that if this horse sees a horse in front of him, he’ll do everything in his power to get passed him. His win in the rebel makes him five for six for his career, with his only loss being to Out Of Bounds by a neck at Santa Anita early in the year. Trainer Bob Baffert has already said Secret Circle is likely to come back for the Arkansas Derby so it looks like we will have the possibility of an “Oaklawn Crown” this year.
-2nd Star – Tiz Miz Sue (KY) – After trying eight times to get a win at Oaklawn, the ninth time was a charm from Tiz Miz Sue, as she was dominate in winning the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes this Saturday. She sat a length off the front-runners for most of the race, then exploded down the lane to win by three lengths. Tiz Miz Sue received a 102 beyer number for her effort, which was the exact beyer that Havre De Grace ran in her come back race this weekend. From here you would think the Apple Blossom is the obvious choice for Tiz Miz Sue, and it could be the next start for Havre De Grace as well.
-3rd Star – Optimizer (KY) – Welcome back to the triple crown hunt D Wayne Lukas! Optimizer was completely written off by almost everyone, but within a few strides late Saturday afternoon he became a player in the Kentucky Derby picture. Lukas has always said Optimizer can run all day, and he sure looked like he could judging by the way he ran in The Rebel. Optimizer was just hitting his best stride very late in the race, and passed several rivals within seconds, but fell short by a head to Secret Circle. If you watch the gallop out after the race, Optimizer is well clear of the others just a few short steps after the wire. One issue that has me a little concerned is the fact he did not change his leads. That is something that will have to be corrected for him to move forward.
Flop of the Week:
– Absinthe Minded (KY) – While Optimizer brought joy to the Lukas barn, Absinthe Minded was a huge disappointment. Her form at Oaklawn had been flawless, but in the Azeri she pressed the pace and came up empty in the stretch finishing a fading fourth. It was a giant step backwards for her. Hopefully it was just a bounce off a big performance, and she’ll come back running in the Apple Blossom.
Dudes View of the Rebel:
Preview of Next Week:
– The Hot Spring Stakes: For Four Year Olds and upward. 6 furlongs. Purse $75,000.
– The Arkansas Breeders – Female Division: For Fillies and Mares Three Year Olds and upward. 1 and 1/16th Mile. Purse $50,000
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