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HOT SPRINGS, AR – The industry and the country seem a bit brighter as we approach Saturday’s great card at Oaklawn Park, where the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) – annually a marquee Kentucky Derby (G1) prep – approaches with much less drama than recently seen.
Last year’s Rebel took place just as the pandemic became a truly global issue, and two years ago, the Rebel split divisions after chaos wreaked havoc at Santa Anita Park and forced the track to close, causing the cancellation of the San Felipe Stakes (G2).
The Rebel is the penultimate event on a 12-race card and has a post time of 5:16 PM Central.
The Brad Cox-trained Caddo River will try to make it 2 in a row here after dominating the Smarty Jones Stakes to start his 3-year-old season. Cox saddled Essential Quality to win the Southwest Stakes (G3) here two weeks ago and will saddle Caddo River from the rail with regular rider Florent Geroux in the irons.
Tough Luck Bob Baffert invades Oaklawn Park with recent San Vicente Stakes (G2) winner Concert Tour. The undefeated colt has 2 impressive wins and will have Joel Rosario aboard as he breaks from post 7.
Perhaps the most frustrated horse on the grounds is the Robertino Diodoro-trained Keepmeinmind, who finally seems ready to make his 3-year-old debut. He’ll break from post 6 with regular rider David Cohen up for the ride.
The full field from the rail out: Caddo River, Big Lake, Hozier, Get Her Number, Twilight Blue, Keepmeinmind, Concert Tour, and Super Stock.
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#7 Concert Tour – He looks like Baffert’s second-best in the whole barn, which is probably good enough to win this race. His most recent workout at Santa Anita drew rave reviews from clockers, his pedigree screams two turns, and he drew outside of all the other speed. He could stalk the front-runners and fly home late for victory.
#6 Keepmeinmind – It’ll be nice to finally see him run after bad weather forced him to miss too much training before the Southwest. He’s clashed with the top horses in the crop and will have a big chance against a pace that should be very hot, but we won’t know how much he’s progressed from 2 to 3 until we see him try.
#1 Caddo River – His Smarty Jones victory was a real eye-opener, but there’s a serious question mark as far as what he beat and there’s a lot more speed signed on here, the exact opposite of his setup last time. Additionally, if it rains a lot, this track usually doesn’t play kindly to front-runners. For all those reasons, Caddo River might be up against it here.
#2 Big Lake – His Fair Grounds victory last month was against a pretty solid allowance field, which bodes well against a top-heavy field. He’s logical at a price.
#4 Get Her Number – We last saw him in late September, when he upset the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at a price. He’s had a steady workout pattern leading up to this race and lured Javier Castellano to ride. He’s very much a wild card here, but if you’re looking for a long shot, he’s shown talent in the past.
#5 Twilight Blue – He has spotty form but looked good last time out over this track when beating a decent group of allowance runners, but this will be a much tougher challenge.
#3 Hozier – It’s hard to get behind Baffert’s second runner, who looks a step slow compared to most of these. He improved dramatically in his second start while routing for the first time, but he’ll need to show that kind of progression again here to have a chance.
#8 Super Stock – He was a decent 2-year-old but couldn’t quite find the winner’s circle after moving up in class. He’ll need major progression if he wants to compete with this group.
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