If Saturday’s Rebel (G2) is split into two divisions as Oaklawn Park officials expect, each division of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series prep will be worth $750,000. Derby qualifying points of 37 1/2 – 15 – 7 1/2 – 3 3/4 will be distributed to the top four finishers in each division. If the race is indeed split, the heavy favorites will be the Bob Baffert-trained pair of Game Winner and Improbable, whom Oaklawn officials have said would not be placed in the same division. The 1 1/16-mile Rebel has had an interesting history. Beginning life as an overnight handicap in the 1960s, the Rebel’s first significant winner was Temperence Hill (1980), who would go on to win the Belmont Stakes (G1) and the three-year-old title. The first horse to win the Rebel and the Kentucky Derby (G1) was Sunny’s Halo in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1990 that the Rebel was finally elevated to Grade 3 status. In the 1990s it was won by future classic winners Pine Bluff (1992) and Victory Gallop (1998). The purse of the Rebel declined to $100,000 at the turn of the century, and for two years it was run as a non-graded Listed event. The race’s fortune took a turn for the better in 2004 when the purse was boosted to $200,000 and a $5 million bonus was offered to any horse that could win Oaklawn’s major preps — the Southwest, Rebel, and Arkansas Derby — and the Kentucky Derby. As luck would have it, Smarty Jones took full advantage of that enticement and swept all four races. The Rebel was elevated back to a Grade 3 event the following year, and in 2008 was boosted to a Grade 2. As can be seen from a list of winners since Smarty Jones, the Rebel has generally been a formful race. Bob Baffert has trained six of them since 2010, including the shortest-priced winner (American Pharoah) and the highest single-digit priced winner (Hoppertunity).
|2010||Lookin at Lucky||1.10|
|2013||Will Take Charge||28.00|