Get ready for the $500,000 Gr. 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, March 17. Sabercat, who has already earned $600,000 in graded stakes, will be making his 2012 debut. And Southwest Stakes division winners Castaway and Secret Circle may be headed for a showdown. Read all about the top contenders for the Rebel Stakes here.
The $500,000 Gr. 2 Rebel Stakes for 3-year-olds will be held at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, March 17. Sabercat, Castaway and Secret Circle are all probable starters in this significant Kentucky Derby prep race run over 1 1/16 miles.
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After clinching a spot in the Kentucky Derby off a single race in 2011, Sabercat will make his 2012 debut in Saturday’s Rebel Stakes. A son of Bluegrass Cat, Sabercat took four tries to break his maiden, eventually doing so at Monmouth Park on Sept. 5 by half a length. His next test was the Garden State Stakes at the same track on Oct. 2, and he was much the best by 6 lengths over the five other rivals. Despite his dominating performance, Sabercat was not the race favorite in his next outing: the $1M Gr. 3 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes on Nov. 19. But the Steve Asmussen trainee stuck a head out front in the stretch run after racing near the back of the pack for much of the race and drew away to win the race by four lengths. The $600,000 in graded stakes earnings he won in one fell swoop will be enough to make the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby; the question left to be answered is whether Sabercat can gain enough momentum to ensure a peak on the first Saturday in May. His latest workout was at Santa Anita Park on March 4 and was a 6-furlong move timed in 1:12.60.
Unbeaten this year and winner of the Southwest Stakes (G3) (division 1) on Feb. 20 is Castaway, one of two Bob Baffert trainees possible for the Rebel Stakes on Saturday. Though it took six tries for Castaway to break his maiden, he finally capitalized on Jan. 21 at Santa Anita Park with a 2 ¼ length score. He also battled hard to win his division of the Southwest Stakes a month later, earning $150,000 in graded stakes earnings for the victory. A son of Street Sense, Castaway will need another big race to score more important graded stakes earnings and stay Derby-eligible. He has been in training at Santa Anita Park, turning in a 6-furlong move timed in 1:11.60 at Santa Anita Park on March 10.
Secret Circle is the second Bob Babbert trainee possible for Saturday’s race and is hoping to boost his current $170,000 in graded stakes earnings. He won his division of the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 20 by half a length – an even more contentious race than division 1 – and solidified his status as a top Kentucky Derby contender. Still, distance may be a factor for this Eddington colt; the Rebel Stakes will be his first challenge beyond one mile. His Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint win was at 6 furlongs, as was his victory in the Jack Goodman Stakes on Oct. 10. The only blemish on his record is his runner-up performance in the Gr. 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 7. His latest workout was at Santa Anita Park, 6 furlongs timed in 1:11.60 on March 10.
Scatman, runner-up in the furious second division of the Southwest Stakes, along with recent allowance winner Atigun, are also among the expected.
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