Horse Racing Is Still On This Weekend
The Rebel Stakes will be run at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas Saturday Photo by BroadSports (Wikimedia).
- With most sports cancelled or postponed, horse racing takes center stage
- The $1 million Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park is a significant Kentucky Derby Prep
- There are a few other races Saturday worth pondering for those seeking action – check below for all of our predictions
Before stick and ball sports gained massive popularity, horse racing captured the public’s attention. In 2020, welcome back the Sport of Kings.
Don’t get us wrong, the ponies have massive problems, but there aren’t many other options right now, and thankfully there is a lot of good racing because the Kentucky Derby is still scheduled to be run on May 2.
Today is the first of five straight Saturday’s with significant Kentucky Derby prep races. Win one of these and you probably can race in Louisville if you choose. Finish second or third, and your chances are pretty good too. The feature race this afternoon is The Rebel at Oaklawn Park. Let’s look at it, and briefly discuss a few other interesting races taking place.
2020 Rebel Stakes Odds
|Horse||Odds at Bovada|
Odds taken March 13th.
Trained by Bob Baffert, who led American Pharoah and Justify to Triple Crown victories, Nadal is unbeaten but untested. He was a heavy favorite in two wins in California, impressively winning both races, including the Grade 2 San Vincente Stakes in February.
This is Nadal’s first test going two turns, and it is unclear how he will fair against better competition racing longer. There is a good reason he is the favorite, no knocks thus far, but the price is going to be small.
Top Contenders: Basin and Silver Prospector
Off since his very impressive summer at Saratoga, Basin also goes two turns for the first time. He finished second in his career debut, a sprint at Churchill Downs in June, came back to win a maiden race at The Spa in July, and then was the impressive victor of the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes on September 2.
Basin is trained by two time Kentucky Derby winner Steve Asmussen and ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.
Silver Prospector is also trained by Asmussen. In each of his two Kentucky Derby victories, jockey Rafael Santana has been the captain, and that is who rides Silver Prospector, the highest earner in this field. A veteran of eight races, he was impressive in Oaklawn’s setup for this race, the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes last month.
The grey needed four races to get a victory, but since then has run against hearty competition, and won two graded stakes. He should be comfortable at the track and distance.
Longshot: Three Technique
His name derives from a football lineman, so it won’t be surprising to learn his owner is Hall of Fame NFL coach Bill Parcells. He has been first or second in each of his five races, including January’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
The price is right and we like that he took off a month to rest and be at his best for this race. He will need to be a pinch faster than we have seen before to win.
The Bet: Basin
Horses often take a big leap from their two-year-old to three-year-old season. Basin was terrific last year and now should be bigger and stronger. He isn’t likely to be fully cranked, that is the goal for May. However, a strong showing is expected.
The Azeri Stakes
It is a big day of racing at Oaklawn, and though no spectators are allowed, some of the fastest older fillies and mares will compete for a $350,000 prize in The Azeri Stakes races.
Betting should be competitive, with Bovada listing Lady Apple and Serengeti Empress each at 2/1, while Mylady Curlin is 9/2 and Street Band 5/1.
Call it patience or stupidity, we still love Serengeti Empress. She has lost five races in a row, but is the class of the field. She has faced the best horses in her class constantly, and has worked really well for this race after getting a break since finishing second to Lady Apple in January.
If you simply don’t believe in Serengeti anymore, review the video of the Houston Ladies Classic. All the major contenders ran in it.
The Beholder Stakes
Outside of Arkansas, the biggest race of the day is the $400,000 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita in Southern California. Hard Not to Love is the favorite at just under even money, but this one feels pretty wide open with Ollie’s Candy (3/1), Mother Mother (4/1), and even Der Lu (14/1) and Ce Ce (16/1) viable.
Hard Not to Love is looking for a fourth straight win against this class of older fillies. Blind in one eye, she’ll be racing around two turns for the first time after an easy win in the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes.
Ollie’s Candy is all class, finishing fourth in the Breeders Cup Distaff after winning the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. She has tended to race over longer distances.
We prefer Ollie’s Candy off a nice break, but don’t count out Baffert’s duo of Der Lu and Mother Mother. Ce Ce is expected to show much better after a strong fourth in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes last year.
Dave has been working in sports journalism for over 16 years. He has broadcast, written about, and reported on the NFL, NBA, MLB, the Olympics, horse racing, golf, tennis, and college sports. Dave has created content for the Associate Press, Metro Networks, ESPN, and numerous local publications.
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