The top five finishers from the Jan. 29 Southwest (G3) – Newgrange, Barber Road, Ben Diesel, Kavod, and Dash Attack – renew rivalry in Saturday’s Rebel (G2) over the same 1 1/16-mile trip at Oaklawn Park.
The Rebel is worth more, however, both in terms of its $1 million purse and its increased points structure (50-20-10-5) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Earlier, Triple Crown-nominated filly Secret Oath tops a small field in the $300,000 Honeybee (G3), the companion scoring race toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Rebel (G2) – Race 11 (6:22 p.m. ET)
Likely favorite Newgrange is not eligible for points, as trainer Bob Baffert is suspended by Churchill Downs Inc. The Southern California shipper figures to be a pace factor from post 2, unlike the Southwest, where he was chasing out wide before forging ahead late. John Velazquez retains the mount on the unbeaten colt, who wired the Sham (G3) two back.
Dash Attack lost his perfect record when a lackluster fifth in the Southwest. The Ken McPeek trainee had won his two prior starts, including the Jan. 1 Smarty Jones S. over a mile here in the slop. Dash Attack has fired two straight bullets as he seeks to bounce back from post 11.
Barber Road has rallied for second in both the Smarty Jones and Southwest. By the Tapit stallion Race Day, who’s also responsible for Holy Bull (G3) winner White Abarrio, Barber Road promises to roll again in the stretch. Kavod likewise duplicated his results, as the fourth-placer finisher in the Smarty Jones and Southwest, and his rail draw presumably forces him to use his early speed.
Ben Diesel improved from a tough-trip seventh in the Smarty Jones to a somewhat distracted third in the Southwest. It would be no surprise for him to continue his progress for Dallas Stewart, especially since Ben Diesel was fourth in last November’s key Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). The Willis Horton homebred is a full brother to Will’s Secret, last year’s Honeybee and Martha Washington S. winner and Kentucky Oaks third.
Steve Asmussen has three entrants, led by recent Oaklawn allowance romper Chasing Time. A son of Not This Time, like Risen Star (G2)-winning stablemate Epicenter, Chasing Time had been consistent around one turn, but reached a new level when stepping up to a mile last out. Stellar Tap has failed to prosper since giving Asmussen the all-time North American win record in his debut score at Saratoga. Cairama, a slow-starting sixth in the Smarty Jones, is another who needs to find more at this level.
Withers (G3) runner-up Un Ojo closed from a hopeless position at Aqueduct for Tony Dutrow. The New York-bred is now back with original trainer Ricky Courville. Texas Red Hot was last seen finishing 10th in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and Ethereal Road comes off a course-and-distance maiden win for D. Wayne Lukas.
Honeybee (G3) – Race 5 (3:10 p.m. ET)
Lukas nominated Secret Oath to the Triple Crown, and another blockbuster performance at Oaklawn Park could propel her to take on the boys. The daughter of Arrogate and Absinthe Minded has won her past two here – an allowance and the Martha Washington – by a combined margin of 15 1/2 lengths.
Yuugiri can boast of beating Secret Oath when they were second and fifth, respectively, in last fall’s Golden Rod (G2). But Secret Oath has matured in the interim, and Yuugiri hasn’t raced since that Nov. 27 event at Churchill Downs. Optionality had romped in the Zia Park Princess S. and Remington’s Trapeze S. before settling for a distant second in the Martha Washington. Multiple Louisiana-bred stakes star Free Like a Girl has won five of her last six, earning a tilt in graded company.
Shortleaf Stable’s homebred Ice Orchid is a recent maiden winner by Super Saver, while Red Queen takes a massive class hike off the $30,000 claim in her maiden score.