Baffert Guns for Third Straight Rebel Triumph

by Greg Melikov

posted on March 14, 2012 in Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby, News, Other Events | No Comments >>

Bob BaffertBob Baffert loves traveling west when it comes to stakes races, particular those of late at Oaklawn Park. The California-based trainer has saddled all but one winner of the Southwest and Rebel Stakes since 2010.

Baffert’s Conveyance captured the Southwest two years ago. When the race was divided into two divisions this year for the third time since ’72, both his runners scored on Feb. 20.

Castaway and Secret Circle put in their final work for the Rebel last Saturday over the fast Santa Anita main track. Each covered six furlongs in 1:11 3/5 handily – second quickest of 16 runners at the distance.

Castaway has captured two straight, including a 3 ¾-length win in Southwest No. 1 at a mile, after breaking his maiden on Jan. 21 at the California track. Secret Circle made Southwest No. 2 his third career stakes victory by a half-length, after taking all three 2-year-old starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs in November.

Rafael Bejarano switches from Castaway to Secret Circle in the Rebel while Mike Smith is replacing him on the son of ’07 Kentucky Derby champ Street Sense.

Quite a few of the top finishers in both Southwest divisions will try to snap Baffert’s win streak in the Rebel. His The Factor won last year while Lookin at Lucky triumphed in ’10.

Jake Mo, runner-up to Castaway, was among the 3-year-olds headed to the Rebel that recently worked at Oaklawn. The son of ’05 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo went five furlongs over a fast surface in 1:00 3/5. Third-place finisher Reckless Jerry worked four furlongs in 49 2/5 over a muddy main track on Monday.

Scatman, second to Secret Circle, covered five furlongs in 1:01 on Saturday. Third-place finisher Adirondack King traveled four furlongs in 49 2/5 on Monday. Fourth placer Pee H Dee zipped a bullet 47 3/5 for a half-mile on Monday. Cyber Secret, fifth to Secret Circle, posted a bullet 59 2/5 for five furlongs on Saturday.

Other likely starters in the full field include Delta Downs Jackpot winner Sabercat, who will make his sophomore debut in the Rebel. The son of Scat Daddy, 2-2-0 of 5, worked four furlongs in 50 4/5 on Monday.

Atigun is coming off a neck victory in January at Oaklawn going 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as Saturday’s big race. The son of Istan is 2-1-0 of 6.

Najjar is gunning for three in a row at Oaklawn after capturing allowance and maiden special weight routes. The son of Jazil is 2-2-1 of 6.

The Rebel purse has been bumped up $200,000 to $500,000. During the past eight years, three Southwest winners have captured the Grade 2.

The last dual champ was Lawyer Ron in ’06. His sibling Adirondack King, trained by John Servis, is 3-1-3 in seven starts. He won three straight as a 2-year-old, all sprints.