Kentucky Derby Trail: Rebel Stakes Picks

All eyes are on Saturday's key Kentucky Derby trials as racing continues
Emily Shields
Sat, March 14, 7:51 AM

PICK: American Theorem

With racetracks across the country banning spectators due to the Coronavirus, TVG is the place to watch all the racing action without missing a beat. The biggest race of the weekend is the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park, a major stepping stone to the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

A field of eight has been drawn for the 1 1/16-mile Rebel, a race that trainer Bob Baffert has won six times. He starts the unbeaten Nadal, who takes the blinkers off for this. The $700,000 son of Blame has won two in a row, but has yet to stretch out around two turns. He broke his maiden to much fanfare on January 19, scoring by nearly four lengths, then faced Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Storm the Court in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on February 9. Nadal was heavily favored and ran like it, outlasting Ginobili by three-quarters of a length. Joel Rosario is coming in to ride the colt, who has had two bullet workouts since the San Vicente.

But can anyone beat him? The best chance might be another California based runner, American Theorem. The son of Rebel winner American Pharoah was one of the favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) before he couldn’t at that last moment. George Papaprodromou trains the gray colt, who broke his maiden sprinting at Del Mar and ran second in the Grade 1 race named for his sire on September 27. The horse that beat him that day, Eight Rings, was widely considered the head of the crop at the time. American Theorem has had seven solid workouts since that last start.

Although untested, No Parole might be a freak. The son of Violence is 8-1 on the morning line, and unbeaten in three starts. He broke his maiden by more than 14 lengths in December for trainer Tom Amoss, then took an allowance by over 13 lengths. He stepped up to stakes company against Louisiana-breds on February 8 going a mile and won handily. Joe Talamo will get aboard for the first time.

Trainer Steve Asmsusen is going to use three aces in here, with Silver Prospector a 7-2 shot despite winning the Southwest Stakes (G3) here on February 17. That is the local prep for this race, and he won by a length after taking the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last fall. Asmussen also starts Grade 1 Hopeful winner Basin, who hasn’t raced since that September 2 event, and 30-1 shot Excession, a son of Union Rags with just one win in eight starts.

Three Technique is also 7-2 on the morning line. He has never been worse than second in five starts, and was second in the Smarty Jones (the winner is not here) on January 24 in his last start. He had won two races in a row before that, and has a February 29 bullet half mile work in :46 flat to show. That was the fastest of 122 works that day.

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