Michelle Yu's Rebel Stakes Race Preview
The Rebel Stakes is Saturday, March 18 at Oaklawn Park. VIP Manager Michelle Yu gives offers her thoughts on the Kentucky Derby prep race. For entries, trivia and more information about the Rebel, click here.
Michelle Yu's Picks: 10-4-7-11
Top Pick: Royal MoRoyal Mo seems to have some raw talent and I like the fact that he is already a graded stakes winner with not a lot of opportunity while some of these have been chasing that goal. Outside draw is good with his speed but I'm hoping he is kind and will rate off what appears to be a red hot pace.
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D. Wayne Lukas
I expect to see this colt hustle for the lead with that recent fast work under his belt as he breaks from the rail. Classic pedigree top and bottom as he tried routing for the second time. You can't count out the Coach on the Derby trail but we will need to see a step up here.
Threw in an absolute clunker in the Southwest when he was looked in the eye. There could also be some distance limitations there as both off the board finishes have been beyond a mile. I also think the wet track flattered him in the Southwest. Prefer others.
The lone maiden in the field, I have to think Desormeaux is looking to pick up a check rather than think he is going to pose for a photo. Nothing wrong with that if you like to play exotics. I find it hard to rely on a horse who can't beat maidens but we have seen similar types from this trainer in the past.
Loved this colt to turn the tables last out over a fast strip and he looked like a winner a furlong out. Settled for second behind the ultra impressive One Liner. Now I feel a little burned because I get caught on this type of horse every year. Even though One LIner isn't here this is a plenty deep field. Exotic play.
One of a pair in here for Asmussen, the son of sprinter Trappe Shot invades Arkansas for the first time. Biggest benefit for him is going to be the pace upfront as Uncontested should be joined by a few other faces. He will improve with maturity and if the front runners have distance questions then they will be coming back. Good chance.
Todd Pletcher. Javier Castellano. Need I say more? Castellano took his tack on the road last weekend and won two Grade 1s at Santa Anita. Undefeated son of Preakness winner Shackelford will try two turn for the first time and Pletcher is on record saying he might be a better sprinter but its hard to believe this team makes the trip here "just to see if he can go a route".
Not flattered by Gormley's disappointing effort in San Felipe but this horse reminds me of his daddy a few years back who parlayed a maiden win and a stakes runner up effort into a monster win in the Arkansas Derby. Since everything Mike Smith touches turns to gold right now, you have to give him a look and a shot. Baffert also looking for his fourth Rebel in a row.
Tough effort last out off the bench, first try versus winners, salty stakes company and a stretch out. I like that he gets off the rail and that his form appears hes a "needs a race" type. Longshot play.
Jack Van Berg
Who would have thought a move would revitalize the career of Jack Van Berg? But it has as he is back with good horses and good clients. Van Berg is hitting at near 20%, he gets the "Bionic Man"Gary Stevens to ship in and he is the local horse. Van Berg is excellent at getting them to peak in multiple efforts but that time was less than inspiring.
Its been years since John Sheriffs has been in Arkansas and he only ships when he has a shot. The lone graded stakes winner int he field, Royal Mo is undefeated at two turns when he has been able to get on the lead and prevail. This is a speed heavy event though and I think he will be kind enough to play catch up. The pick.
Lookin At Lee
6 race foundation as a juvenile, his recent running style is a bit puzzling when in his first few starts he laid closer. There is a chance he just can't keep pace with better horses and note the addition of blinkers didn't make a lot of difference. I didn't love his 3 year old debut but he will benefit from a hot pace in here. Able to pick up some pieces but needs to break and just be a little more in touch.