Close menu
Rebel Stakes Preview: Nadal Ready to Stretch Out in Distance

Rebel Stakes Preview: Nadal Ready to Stretch Out in Distance

For the second straight season, the horse racing world will turn to Oaklawn Park and the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for a feel-good narrative. Last year’s Rebel split into two divisions after chaos wreaked havoc at Santa Anita Park and forced the track to close, causing the cancellation of the San Felipe Stakes (G2). This year, the Rebel runs just days after the FBI raided the barns of well-known scumbag cheating trainers Jorge Navarro and Jason Servis, whose years of drugging their horses finally caught up to them.

Oaklawn Park once again came through for us in a major way and has a great card prepared for us on Saturday, with the Rebel highlighting the action. Local post time for the race is set for 5:23 PM CT. 

The field seems to center around the Bob Baffert-trained Nadal, who comes to Arkansas after winning his first two starts. Last time out, he won the San Vicente Stakes (G2) impressively at Santa Anita Park. This will be the colt’s first race around two turns, but his hype places him as one of Baffert’s best 3-year-olds. He drew the rail and has Joel Rosario coming in for the mount.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has won the first two legs of the Oaklawn Park prep series, will send out three for this event. Leading the charge is the Southwest Stakes (G3) winner Silver Prospector, who drew post 4. He also sends out the Hopeful Stakes (G1) winner Basin, who will make his 2020 debut when he breaks from post 3. Finally, expected longshot Excession will also run for Asmussen, from post 2. 

The horse most likely to upset the major contenders is Three Technique, who drew post 6. He comes into this contest off of a decent second-place effort in the Smarty Jones Stakes on Oaklawn Park’s opening weekend. The Jeremiah Englehart-trained colt has never finished worse than second in five lifetime starts. Luis Saez will have the mount for the first time. 

The full field from the rail out: Nadal, Excession, Basin, Silver Prospector, No Parole, Three Technique, Coach Bahe, and American Theorem.

( Content Continues Below Ad )

Top Choice 

#1 Nadal – This Bob Baffert trainee has been heavily hyped since before his debut. He’s lived up to that hype as well, winning on debut with ease before taking home the San Vicente Stakes (G2) last time out at Santa Anita Park. However, he has not been overly flashy in those two efforts, which have some wondering about his talent level. This will also be his first time going two turns, which is another hurdle that he’ll have to maneuver. He does seem to have a distance pedigree, though, and Baffert built him up slowly with a pair of one-turn races before this test. We’ll soon find out what this horse has to offer moving forward on the Derby Trail. 

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers 

#4 Silver Prospector – The Southwest Stakes (G3) winner is back for more, looking for his third graded stakes victory. As a 2-year-old, he made headlines when winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2), defeating the current number one-ranked Derby prospect Tiz the Law. He should be able to sit a similar trip in this spot. He also won the Kentucky Jockey Club over a sloppy track, so if it rains, he should be good to go. This colt seems to be flying under the radar right now but could very well be the biggest danger to the favorite.

#3 Basin – This horse is a real wild card and a bit of a handicapping puzzle. When we last saw Basin, he was winning the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga ultra-impressively, but he has not raced since. One would think that he is going to need a race under his belt before he’s ready for a tussle like this, but his recent workouts have been really solid. This is a good spot to get him started and should gauge where he ranks among the current crop. Asmussen wouldn’t enter him here unless he believed that Basin was ready to show up with a solid effort. 

Exotic Plays 

#6 Three Technique – From day one, we’ve been high on this horse, so it’s nice to see him entered in this spot. He has finished no worse than second in five starts and gained some solid experience over the track last time out in the Smarty Jones Stakes. That race did not set up well for his running style, but this should be better. Look for him to come with a solid run in the end, though he’ll need a hot pace in order to win the whole thing. 

Party Crashers 

#8 American Theorem – He is definitely the biggest mystery heading into the event. He has just two starts under his belt, so it’s unclear as to how good he might be. After breaking his maiden on debut at Del Mar, he backed that performance up with a runner-up effort in the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park. Injuries forced him to miss the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a few months of training, which is why his 2020 debut has been pushed back until now. He probably needs a race, but he still makes for an intriguing prospect. 

Throw Outs  

#5 No Parole – We’ll see how this undefeated Louisiana-bred fares against open company. He hasn’t been close to losing in any of his three starts, which is a great sign, but he’s also faced next to nothing. He has some proving to do before we can back him in a race of this magnitude. 

#2 Excession – This was a surprise entry, as he was not listed on the probables leading up to the race. The Calumet Farm-owned colt has struggled this year, finishing seventh in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) and eighth in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). We’ll need to see a major form reversal from him if he wants to have a shot.

#7 Coach Bahe – This recent Fair Grounds maiden special weight winner will jump into the deep end of the pool. After finishing last two starts back, he bounced back in his most recent effort, winning by 1 1/4 lengths while going a mile in the slop. However, his speed figures do not match up with the rest of this field.

Check out our REBEL STAKES Wagering Guide for Picks and Plays 

Join the Inner Circle

Sign up for exclusive 10% discount on orders, plus be the first to access our daily free and premium horse racing picks, articles, podcasts, and more!

Sign Up