Sliding down the Mississippi, the Derby bus heads back to Arkansas for the first time since ArchArchArch‘s shocking victory in the Southwest Stakes at 14-1. The site is Hot Springs at Oaklawn Park which has a unique history as a resort of bathhouses and a once thriving gambling, gangster, prostitution and racing scene. Oddly enough, this was a place that the executive branch of our government frequented thoroughout the 1800s and early 1900s. At one point, Wyatt Earp was de-armed in town for being drunk and unhappy with his gambling losses. It sounds like he may have been just ‘standing around and bleeding’ while having trouble ‘skinning that smoke wagon’.
Back in the prohibition days, Al Capone used to frequently visit Hot Springs and stay at the famous Arlington Hotel. It is here that he brokered many of his liquor and moonshine deals in order to supply his growing number of speak-easys, mainly in the Midwest. However, Arkansas is not just rich with stories of its history, people and land, but it is overflowing with champion racehorses. In the last few years, the Rebel Stakes was won by Kentucky Derby champion and Horse of the Year Smarty Jones, 2-time Horse of the Year Curlin and the Derby 2nd place finisher and Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky.
This year’s Rebel Stakes features a few newcomers on the scene in addition to several Derby probables. The under the radar ArchArchArch will try to repeat his form from the Southwest Stakes and will take on s0me of the top early 3-year-olds including California shippers The Factor and Sway Away. Other notable contenders include Alternation, JP’s Gusto, Caleb’s Posse and Dreaminofthewin.
$300,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II, Race 10, 5:31 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Archarcharch (KY), J K Court, 122, W H Fires 8-1
2. Alternation (KY), L S Quinonez, 117, D K Von Hemel 12-1
3. Dreaminofthewin (KY), M C Berry, 115, C R Trout SCRATCH
4. Picko’s Pride (KY), I Ocampo, 115, M Robertson 20-1
5. J P’s Gusto (KY), R A Dominguez, 117, J Petalino 5-1
6. The Factor (KY), M Garcia, 117, B Baffert 2-1
7. Caleb’s Posse (KY), E Razo Jr., 122, D K Von Hemel 20-1
8. Saratoga Red (KY), T J Thompson, 115, D W Lukas 30-1
9. Sway Away (KY), G K Gomez, 115, J Bonde 5-2
10. Elite Alex (ON), C H Borel, 115, T F Ritchey 8-1
11. Glint (KY), G Saez, 117, K Gorder SCRATCH
12. Bluegrass Jam (KY), M C Baze, 115, W H Fires 30-1
13. J W Blue (KY), J Rocco Jr., 117, A W Dutrow 30-1
Even with the lack of speed, I do not think that The Factor wants to go 1 1/16 and think he will be caught. That being said, there is a chance that he could carry his speed in this race since there is no real threat to challenge him on the front end with the exception of Saratoga Red (looks like a 3rd place finish is more likely). I expect JP’s Gusto to find a nice stalking trip and get an early jump on Sway Away, Alternation and Elite Alex. JP’s Gusto has been working supurbly, as many of the contenders have, and has the look of a good horse peaking for this race. If he were not boxed in the last time out, I think that he might have been able to pass ArchArchArch down the stretch. I wanted to find room on my ticket for ArchArchArch but when he drew the #1 post, it made it easier to leave him off. There will be several charging at the end, but I like JP’s Gusto to hold off Sway Away at the finish. Good luck to all.
The Pick: 5 JP’s Gusto – 9 Sway Away – 2 Alternation
Live Longshots (likely 10-1 or higher): Alternation and JW Blue
Written By: Fundanichols
Good luck on your brackets and watchout for Richmond, Oakland and Gonzaga. Also, Washington could be very dangerous against North Carolina if they make it to the 2nd round. Remember, it’s insanely easy to hit free throws but not everyone does it.
Final Note: Cal Nation has finally found an allowance race to draw in over the weekend and it should be a challenging one. The race has also drawn Dance City, another one of Pletcher’s impressive maiden winners and the fast closing 4th place finisher from the Fountain of Youth, Bowman’s Causeway. We will check in with the winners but expect CN and BC to both be very tough.