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Oaklawn Park was the center of the horse racing world last weekend with one of the best cards of the season, including two runnings of the Rebel Stakes (G2). Needless to say, the track delivered with an incredible day of racing, with an attendance of 45,000 people on hand. The grandstand was packed, while over $16 million was bet on the card throughout the country. Let’s talk about the three biggest stars on the day:
It was a historic day of racing at Oaklawn Park on Saturday with two runnings of the Rebel Stakes (G2). In the end, both division had incredible finishes, giving us several great prospects moving forward as we look towards the Kentucky Derby. The second running of the race produced our #1 star this week in a decision that was almost as narrow as the finish of the race. Omaha Beach was able to just hold off a late charge from Game Winner to win by a nose in a thrilling stretch-duel. Turning for home Omaha Beach took charge by two lengths, looking home free, but an ultra-determined Game Winner wouldn’t make it easy on him. The two stars dueled it out in the last 100 yards of the stretch, with Omaha Beach digging in and holding off the Breeders’ Cup winner. Moving forward, both of these horses are serious Kentucky Derby candidates.
In the first running of the Rebel Stakes (G2) we had a stretch run for the ages. The highly touted Improbable looked home free when turning for home; however, Jon Court and Long Range Toddy had other things on their mind. After a very wide journey throughout the race, Improbable started to slow down a bit in deep stretch, while Long Range Toddy was just hitting his best stride. Just a few yards from the wire Long Range Toddy fought past the undefeated Baffert runner, winning the race by a nose. Moving forward, both horses took giant steps towards the Kentucky Derby, with a rematch possibly brewing in four weeks in Arkansas Derby (G1). That will be must see TV, while also giving us a great indication of who is doing best heading into the Kentucky Derby.
The two running’s of the Rebel Stakes (G2) made all the headlines on Saturday; however, there is one other performance that should not be overshadowed. The Azeri Stakes (G3) featured the return of Elate in a matchup against the classy Midnight Bisou. Right out of the gate Midnight Bisou secured a solid inside rail position, stalking the early leader Tapa Tapa Tapa. Elate wasn’t far behind, but was a bit wide throughout, which ended up making the difference. Turning for home, Midnight Bisou shot up the inside, saving all the ground. The Steve Asmussen trainee hit the wire first by a length, with Elate coming in second. Both of these horses are going to be major players in the division this season.
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