Edited Press Release

A 1 1/16-mile, entry-level allowance Friday at Oaklawn Park could produce a starter for the $900,000 Rebel (G2) on March 19.

Owner Richard Keith said Sunday morning that Black Ops will be wheeled back in the Rebel with a strong performance in Friday’s 9TH race, which will be his first start against older horses and first since a 10th-place finish in the Smarty Jones S. on January 18 at Oaklawn.

Trainer Rodney Richards said Black Ops came out of the race with a foot abscess. The Hard Spun gelding worked twice earlier this month at Oaklawn in advance of Friday’s race.

“This is a prep race for the Rebel,” Keith said. “We have 14 days left, so we’ll be in good shape there.”

Black Ops is scheduled to break from post 3 under Walter De La Cruz and carry 115 pounds.

Also in the projected 11-horse field are four-year-old Wolf Man Rocket, who broke his maiden in last year’s Northern Spur S. at Oaklawn, and Charming Deputy, excluded from the Smarty Jones because of earnings.

“It’s a tough race,” Keith admitted.

Probable post time for Friday’s 9TH race is 5:10 p.m. (CT).

Keith and Richards already have American Dubai pointing for the Rebel following a third-place finish in the February 15 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn. He recorded a three-furlong bullet move in :36.20 Saturday morning at Oaklawn.

“He’s been tearing the stall up,” Keith said. “He can’t seem to get enough.”

Rebel probable Siding Spring, fifth in the Southwest after setting the pace, worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 after the renovation break Sunday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Mark Casse.

Multiple stakes winner and Rebel hopeful Discreetness will probably have his first work since finishing seventh in the Southwest on Wednesday, trainer Jinks Fires said Sunday morning.

After winning the Smarty Jones in his three-year-old debut, Discreetness was beaten 10 1/2 lengths in the Southwest after breaking from the extreme outside 14 post. The Rebel is also expected to attract a large field.

“I bet it will be one,” Fires said. “I hope we draw a good post.”

Discreetness beat Southwest winner Suddenbreakingnews by a nose in the Springboard Mile on December 13 at Remington Park.

The Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.

Black Ops photo courtesy of Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography