The much anticipated $1 million Rebel (G2) headlines a big day of racing at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. In total, a trio of especially competitive black-type events will be contested on the 11-race slate. I will take aim at the big events, as well as tab a runner in an earlier contest who is my top selection on the card.

Rebel (G2)

Tough handicapping assignment with eight solid contenders in the cast. I am expecting a big performance from Hopeful (G1) romper #3 Basin (3-1) off the bench, even though I don’t love his morning-line price.

Liam’s Map colt showed plenty of potential as a juvenile, and he comes in with a long string of morning drills for his 3-year-old debut. The colt seems well-suited for the trip, and Castellano coming in to pick up the mount is a positive.

#6 Three Technique (7-2) looks live in his second Oaklawn Park assignment. Englehart pupil was the lone horse closing when runner-up in the Smarty Jones, and he has also trained well leading up to his graded debut. Luis Saez gets the nod.

Azeri (G2)

A classy field of seven fillies and mares will vie in the affair at 1 1/16 miles. I find it difficult to separate the top-four betting choices in the field, though I consider #1 Street Band (3-1) to be among the best in her division and I will give her the slight edge.

Trained by Larry Jones, the Grade 1 queen commenced her 2020 campaign with a smart third at Sam Houston and shows a pair of swift 5-furlong moves in the interim. Istan 4-year-old draws the rail and will receive a ground-saving voyage to the top of the lane under Sophie Doyle.

Essex H.

Seven will go to the gate in the 1 1/16-miles contest, with five exiting the recent Razorback H. (G3) on the strip. This looks like a decent spot to take a chance with #5 Bravazo (8-1) for D. Wayne Lukas.

Awesome Again 5-year-old ran like a horse that was short when checking in fifth in a Fifth Season S. division in his seasonal debut, and traveling five-wide throughout in the Razorback last time out was a less than ideal voyage behind a moderate pace. He could be primed for a big run third off the layoff at a price.

Bonus Play

Race 4

Starter allowance attracted a strong field of 10 for the level. And the rapid improvement of #1A Matrooh (9-5) since adding blinkers four back can’t be ignored. Claimed two back by Diodoro, the full-brother to Funny Cide might be at his best at 10.

The bay has dominated two better fields in succession and draws outside to avoid traffic in here. Kentucky-bred will be my early Pick-4 single for one of the hotter barns on the grounds.