Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Rebel Stakes Preview

This Saturday, the Oaklawn spur of the Kentucky Derby trail continues with the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes.

Bob Baffert has been dominant in this race in recent years, and sends out another solid entry this year in American Anthem.  But, ten others will try to put his streak on halt.  The field includes several from the Oaklawn series, including Uncontested, Petrov, and Lookin at Lee.  Steve Asmussen also sends his solid Fair Grounds horse, Untrapped.  Todd Pletcher doesn’t send out Southwest winner One Liner — but he does send Malagacy for his stakes Debut.  American Anthem isn’t the only west coast shipper — Lewis winner Royal Mo comes, too.  And, a few other real long shots come to try and spoil the party.

Who do I like?  Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s Rebel Stakes, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

early season stakes at Oaklawn

The racing meet at Oaklawn gets underway this Friday, and promises three months of competitive dirt racing.  The action excites at all levels: full fields in claiming races (not to mention the most patronised claim box in the country!), and classy groups in stakes company.

Here, Blinkers Off looks at the latter.  Opening day features the Fifth Season Stakes, a listed one and one sixteenth mile dirt stakes for open company aged four and up.  Saturday’s card features the Pippin Stakes: same listed level, same eight and a half furlong distance, but for older fillies and mares.

Fellow Chicago racing fans can enjoy Oaklawn-loving Illinois-breds in each of these races: Domain’s Rap in the Fifth Season, Streamline in the Pippin.

The Pippin also has a treat for fans of the Curlin babies: Terra Promessa returns to Hot Springs for the first time since her victory in the Fantasy Stakes (GIII) last April.

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Picks and Ponderings: preps at Keeneland and Oaklawn

Over at Picks and Ponderings, I take on the Derby and Oaks prep races at Keeneland and Oaklawn.

Keeneland’s card features a contentious and oversubscribed edition of the Blue Grass (GI), as well as a compact but high-quality field in the Ashland Stakes (GI).

Over at Oaklawn, the fillies take centre stage in the Fantasy Stakes (GIII).  There is no corresponding Derby prep quite yet; the Arkansas Derby comes next week, on the meet’s closing weekend.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, read my previews of the three-year-old preps at Keeneland and Oaklawn, and let me know in the comments what you think!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Rebel Stakes Day Preview

Over at Picks and Ponderings, Paul Mazur and I have tackled this Saturday’s stakes races at Oaklawn.

I take on the Azeri (GII).  The eight-horse field includes Champion Untapable, but will she be beaten like she was last year?

Paul tackles the Razorback (GIII) and the Rebel (GII).  The Razorback features a contentions group of ten older horses, including a pair of Illinois-breds.  The Rebel drew a full field of fourteen three-year-olds, and the race promises to be a contentious battle for the winner’s share of 50 Kentucky Derby points.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read our preview of Saturday’s stakes races at Oaklawn, and let us know what you think in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2016 Honeybee Stakes Preview

This weekend, the Oaks trail heads south to Hot Springs once again for the Grade III Honeybee Stakes.

The race drew just a field of six, but that field turned out as competitive as one could ask for.  The headliners are certainly two-time Oaklawn stakes winner Marquee Miss (also last year’s Arlington-Washington Lassie winner, for fellow Chicago circuit followers…) and Grade I winner Nickname, but four worthy competitors plan to see the starter along with them.

In this tight race, I find one of those newcomers particularly bettable.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Honeybee Stakes (GIII), and let me know in the comments what you think!

congratulations, Air Squadron and Wabel!

Keen Ice, the Curlin Baby running on the biggest stage this weekend, had a tough go of it in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (GI – UAE).  The pace was slow, Ryan Moore kept him as close as he could to the pace early, but he just did not kick on late.  It was a disappointment, but hardly disastrous.  We learned beyond any question that Keen Ice is a “take back and make one run” type, and he should have a friendlier setup for that when he sees California Chrome, Frosted, and Special Fighter at the end of this month.

However, a pair of Curlin babies stateside had a far better Saturday.


Air Squadron visits Hawthorne in November of 2014 to contest an undercard allowance.  He had a tough day, but stablemate Coalport wore down Yankee Dealer to win the Buck’s Boy later in the card.

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