Eight horses have shipped from Southern California for Saturday’s Rebel Stakes (GII) at Oaklawn Park which has been split into divisions. Six-time Rebel winner Bob Baffert will send out the favorite in each race. Unbeaten Grade I winner Improbable heads a field of nine in the first division and champion 2-year-old male Game Winner tops 10 runners in the second. The well-regarded Kentucky Derby contenders will make their initial start of 2019 and were re-routed to Oaklawn following the cancellation of last weekend’s San Felipe at Santa Anita.
Originally valued at $1 million with 85 combined qualifying points toward a Kentucky Derby berth, each Rebel division is now worth $750,000. As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, qualifying points are distributed based upon the original purse value so each division will award a total of 63.75 points to the top four finishers (37.5-15-7.5-3.75 scale)
A three-time Grade I scorer, Game Winner capped a perfect season with a 2 ¼-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Churchill Downs and presently ranks fifth on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 30 points due to his 2-year-old accomplishments. Joel Rosario has the mount and Gary and Mary West own the son of Candy Ride.
Game Winner will break from post 5 in the second division and his top rivals include Omaha Beach, a nine-length maiden winner in his last outing for Richard Mandella; Grade III winner Gunmetal Gray, who exits a runner-up in the Robert B. Lewis (GIII); and Captain Von Trapp, who will make his stakes debut for Steve Amussen following consecutive maiden and entry-level allowance wins at Oaklawn.
Asmussen has a total of six runners entered, with a pair in the first and four in the second division.
Improbable improved to three-for-three when romping by five lengths in the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI) in mid-December and has captured his last two stakes starts by a combined 12 ¼ lengths. His 100 BRIS Speed rating rates as easily the top last-out figure in his division and regular rider Drayden Van Dyke will be up. The City Zip colt is owned by WinStar Farm, the China Horse Club and Starlight Racing, the same connections of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.
Galilean will try open rivals following a pair of convincing stakes wins over California-bred rivals. Other runners in the first division include Extra Hope, a sharp last-out allowance winner for Mandella; Springboard Mile upsetter Long Range Toddy, second in the Smarty Jones and third in the Southwest (GIII) at Oaklawn for Asmussen; and Robert Lewis third-placer Easy Shot.
Churchill Downs edited Press Release
# Horse Trainer Points
1. War of Will Mark Casse 60
2. Code of Honor Shug McGaughey III 54
3. Haikal Kiaran McLaughlin 50
4. Tacitus Bill Mott 50
5. Game Winner Bob Baffert 30
6. Mind Control Gregg Sacco 30
7. Bourbon War Mark Hennig 21
8. Somelikeithotbrown Mike Maker 20
9. Country House Bill Mott 20
10. Outshine Todd PLetcher 20
11. Knicks Go Ben Colebrook 18
12. Signalman Kenny McPeek 18
13. Gunmetal Gray Jerry Hollendorfer 18
14. Long Range Toddy Steve Asmussen 16
15. Mucho Gusto Bob Baffert 14
16. Tax Danny Gargan 12
17. Improbable Bob Baffert 10
18. Harvey Wallbanger Kenny McPeek 10
19. Well Defined Kathleen O’Connell 10
20. Instagrand Jerry Hollendorfer 10
21. Vekoma George Weaver 10
22. Gray Attempt Jinks Fires 10
23. Win Win Win Mike Trombetta 10
24. Anothertwistafate Blaine Wright 10
25. Roiland Tom Amoss 10
Tags: Bankit, Ben Colebrook, Bob Baffert, Cash is King, Chad Brown, China Horse Club, Code of Honor, Complexity, Danny Gargan, Game Winner, Gary & Mary West, George Weaver, Gray Attempt, Gregg Sacco, Gunmetal Gray, Hog Creek Hustle, Improbable, Jerry Hollendorfer, Kathleen O'Connell, Kenny McPeek, Kenny Troutt, Klaravich Stables, Knicks Go, KRA Stud Farm, Long Range Toddy, Magdalena Racing, Mark Casse, Maximus Mischief, Mike Trombetta, Mind Control, Mucho Gusto, Network Effect, Our Braintrust, Plus One Parfait, Red Oak Stable, Signalman, Starlight Racing, Steve Asmussen, Sueno, Tight Ten, Tommie M. Lewis, Walking L Thoroughbreds, War of Will, west point thoroughbreds, Willis Horton Racing, Winstar Farm