Kentucky Derby

Rebel Stakes Contenders Make Final Preparations

Smarty Jones Stakes winner Uncontested (Coady Photography)

Untrapped completed major preparations for the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes on March 18 with a 5-furlong work on a cloudy, chilly Saturday morning at Oaklawn.  Breezing over a fast surface about 40 minutes after the track opened for training, Untrapped went in 1:01 for the 1 1/16-mile race, the final major local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 15.

The son of Trappe Shot covered his final quarter-mile in :22.80 and galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:14, according to clockers.  It was the first time he has worked over Oaklawn’s surface.  Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Untrapped made his first two starts this year at Fair Grounds, finishing second in both the Grade 3, $200,000 LeComte Stakes on January 21 and the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on February 25.

Owner Mike Langford said that New York-based Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride Untrapped for the first time in the Rebel.  Langford purchased the colt for $125,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s April sale of 2-year-olds in training.

“He’s absolutely the most talented horse I’ve ever had,” said Langford, a commercial real estate developer from Jonesboro, Ark.  “He just stays.”

Langford also campaigned multiple graded stakes winner Jonesboro ($1,550,685 in career earnings), and the owner’s Carve bumped his career earnings to $1,022,940 following a third-place finish in Friday’s seventh race, an allowance/optional claimer.  Carve ran third in the 2013 Arkansas Derby.

Untrapped, who has a 1-3-0 record and earnings of $166,800 from four starts, finished second in his October 19 career debut at Keeneland and was beaten six lengths by Uncontested, the record-setting 5 1/4-length winner of the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on January 16, Oaklawn’s first of four major Kentucky Derby preps.

Other locally-based horses pointing towards the Rebel include Petrov, Lookin At Lee, Silver Dust, and Uncontested, the second, third, fourth and sixth-place finishers, respectively, in the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest Stakes on February 20.

Also expected for the Rebel are Royal Mo and American Anthem from Southern California, unbeaten Malagacy from south Florida, and Silver Bullion, who broke his maiden here on February 9 for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Royal Mo, who is trained by John Shirreffs, won the Grade 3, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on February 4 at Santa Anita in his latest start.

American Anthem, in his stakes debut, ran second in the $100,000 Sham on January 7 at Santa Anita in his most recent start for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Rebel three consecutive times and a record six times overall – all since 2010.  American Anthem is a son of the Baffert-trained Bodemeister, the runaway winner of the 2012 Arkansas Derby, and is owned by WinStar Farm LLC, S F Bloodstock LLC, and China Horse Club.

WinStar, S F Bloodstock, and China Horse Club won the Southwest with unbeaten One Liner (3 for 3), who was making his stakes debut for Todd Pletcher.  Pletcher returns with Malagacy (2 for 2), who, like One Liner, exits a first-level allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park and never raced around two turns.  The son of 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford has won his two starts by a combined 22 lengths.

Ron Moquett, who co-owns and trains the Smarty Jones and Southwest runner-up Petrov, said that the Rebel will be a “real, real tough race.”  He had considered skipping the Rebel and bringing Petrov up to the Arkansas Derby off works.

“I think we’re one of the reasons it’s tough,” Moquett said.  “But you have Mr. Baffert, Mr. Shirreffs, Pletcher all coming in, so you’ve got to take extra time to make sure you’re making the right decision.”

The Rebel offers 85 points (50-20-10-5) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby.  Post positions will be drawn on Wednesday, March 15.

The Rebel will anchor a card that includes the Grade 2, $350,000 Azeri Stakes for older fillies and mares, along with the $250,000 Essex Handicap for older horses.  All three races are 1 1/16 miles.

Oaklawn Park

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