After the cancelation of the San Felipe at Santa Anita, the decision was made to run a split Rebel. Initially Oaklawn said they would need 20 horses entered to split, but only 19 entered.
Oaklawn management decided to stick with the two races, giving us the chance for 19 horses to a run at Kentucky Derby prep points. Originally a 50-20-10-5 points race, with the split points were reduced to 63.75 qualifying points for each race.
The breakdown from first to fourth is: 37.5, 15, 17.5 and 3.75.
Oaklawn also said if trainers entered two horses, they would split the horses into different heats, which is what happened with Bob Baffert, Jerry Hollendorfer and Richard Mandella.
Steve Asmussen has six horses entered in the two races.
Rebel I (2:57 p.m. post): Improbable (3/5, Baffert) and Galilean (3/1, Hollendorfer highlight this race. Improbable has won all three of his starts, all three with Drayden Van Dyke. He’s been the overwhelming favorite in all three of his starts and has gotten better each time out. The last start was five-length win in the Los Alamitor Futurity on December 8. Galilean has won three of four starts, all coming against Cal-breds. Flavian Prat has the mount for the third straight race, winning his last two by a combined 12 lengths. Extra Hope (6/1, Mandella) is an interesting runner, with Mike Smith taking over Prat. After running third in the Los Al Futurity, he came back with a three-length win in an optional claimer at Santa Anita. Long Range Toddy (10/1, Asmussen) was third in the Southwest at Oaklawn, the prep for this race. The horse has three wins in six starts, but he did take some moderate action in the Southwest.
Rebel II (4:06 p.m.): Baffert and Hollendorfer again bring the biggest runners in the second heat. Game Winner (4/5, Baffert) was the Juvenile Eclipse winner with a 4-for-4 juvenile campaign highlighted by a win in the Breeders’ Cup as the favorite. The horse has been off since the BC but has had a steady and solid work tab for the return. Joel Rosario is up for the fourth time on the horse. Gunmetal Gray (10/1, Hollendorfer) has only two wins in six starts, but the last two races – a win in the Sham and a second in the Lewis, both at Santa Anita – shows the horse is a legit contender. Prat takes over for Smith in the irons. Omaha Beach (7/2, Mandella) has been favored in all five starts, but it took his last start before he broke his maiden. Smith now takes over for Prat with the ride. He was second three times and third in the other start. Our Brain Trust (6/1, Mark Casse) is getting some love on the morning line after hitting the board in a pair of preps in New York (2nd in the Jerome, 3rd in the Withers). David Cohen has the mount for the first time and as is always the case with me, I don’t give the New York runners a lot of credibility. Laughing Fox (10/1, Asmussen) is another to give a look to simply because he has won his last two, both over the Oaklawn track. Granted they were a maiden and an optional claimer, but he has shown he runs well over the surface. Ricardo Santana has the mount.
By Dennis Miller