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Rebel Stakes

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Rebel Stakes

Rebel Stakes Race History

The Rebel Stakes is held annually every March at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It’s a dirt surface race on a left-handed track for three-year-olds. It has been run at the same distance of 1 1/16 miles since its inauguration in 1961. It used to be run as a grade two event, but was upgraded by the American Graded Stakes committee to a grade three stakes race in 2007. The current purse for the Rebel Stakes is $900,000, with $540,000 going to winner; it was a $300,000 purse in 2006. The average number of of starters is 10.2, with the 15-horse field in 1980 being the largest ever for the event.

Not only is the Rebel Stakes considered an important prep race for the $1 million Arkansas Derby, but it’s also a top Kentucky Derby prep race and is worth 50 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Since the first running of the Rebel Stakes in 1961, a total of 11 horses have won both the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby in the same year. Seven horses have won both the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby and one American Classic race: Curlin, Smarty Jones, Victory Gallop, Pine Bluff, Sunny’s Halo, Temperance Hill, and American Pharoah. American Pharoah holds the distinction of winning both and the Triple Crown in 2015.

Rebel Stakes Records

The biggest margin of victory at the Rebel Stakes is seven lengths. The record is co-owned by Etony (1968) and Manatash Ridge (1989). The record for fastest winning time is 1:40 4/5, which was set by Betemight in 1967. Only five other horses have run it in less than 1:42. Malagacy’s winning time of 1:43 in 2017 is the fastest in the last ten years.

The most Rebel Stakes wins by an owner is five (Loblolly Stable – 1980, 1984, 1987, 1992, and 1993). The most Rebel Stakes wins by a jockey is four (Mike E. Smith – 1986, 1993, 1999, and 2014). And the most Rebel Stakes wins by a trainer is Bob Baffert, who won the event every year from 2010 to 2016, except in 2013.

Rebel Stakes Betting

The Rebel Stakes (G2) is a 1 1/16 mile race for 3-year-olds held at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The race in mid-March offers a purse of $900,000 and is part of the Kentucky Derby Championship series. The winner is awarded 50 points towards qualifying for the Kentucky Derby which is usually enough for a spot in the starting gate the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

The Rebel Stakes has been contested at the same 1 1/16 mile distance since 1961 and the speed record is 1:41.00 by Vanlandingham in 1984. Four of the last seven winners since 2010 have been the race favorite, and all styles have won the race including the front runner and eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. He was coming off a long race layoff having not raced since the previous September. In 2013 Will Take Charge won at long odds of 28-1 and paid $58.00 on a $2 win wager.

The Rebel Stakes draws crowds of more than 30,000 to Oaklawn, and the race day crowd annually bets more than $9 million on that racing card. When betting the Rebel Stakes, watch for horses that ran in the Southwest Stakes or Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn the previous month, and others coming in from allowance races at Gulfstream. See how the horses train over the Oaklawn track or if they raced, how they handled the surface. There is no turf course at Oaklawn, and the weather changes in spring a change in track conditions from day to day.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has won eight trainer titles at Oaklawn including in 2017, so pay attention to his horses for the Rebel, and Ricardo Santana, Jr. is a jockey to watch with five racing titles including in 2017. Familiarity with the track and conditions is another edge when betting, but a horse in good form, improving and training well that takes to the surface is what your trying to find at a favorable price.   

Read More on the Rebel Stakes:

HANSON: 5 Fast Facts: Rebel Stakes
Rebel Stakes Archives from

Rebel Stakes Past Winners

A few Hall of Fame horses have a Rebel Stakes victory on their resume. A few of the more noteworthy and recognizable names are Sunny’s Halo (1986 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee), Victory Gallop (2010 Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee), and Curlin (2014 United States Racing Hall of Fame Inductee).

2015American Pharoah2-5$2.801:45.78Front1st
2013Will Take Charge28-1$58.001:45.18Closer, off pace5th
2012Secret Circle1-1$4.001:44.5Stalking1st
2011The Factor7-5$4.801:42.19Front1st
2010Lookin at Lucky6-5$4.201:43.06Closer, back1st