(Gunmetal Gray will take on the big boys again in the G2 Rebel Stakes on Saturday. Here he was before the 2018 Breeders’ Cup. Photo by Holly M. Smith)
|Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Last Race||Next Race||Comments|
|1||Game Winner||Bob Baffert||Joel Rosario||1st in Breeders’Cup Juvenile||G2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19||Trained Well on Sunday / Ready?|
|2||War of Will||Mark Casse||Tyler Gaffalione||1st in the G2 Risen Star||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||Casse Loved His Work This Weekend|
|3||Improbable||Bob Baffert||Drayden Van Dyke||1st in Cash Call Futurity||G2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19||Super Work at Los Alamitos on Sunday / Critics Choice|
|4||Roadster||Bob Baffert||Mike Smith||1st in SA Allowance||Undecided||Mike Smith Says “He’s Back!”|
|5||Bourbon War||Mark Hennig||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||2nd in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Now, People Take Notice|
|6||Mucho Gusto||Bob Baffert||Joe Talamo||1st in G3 Robert B. Lewis||Sunland Derby 3/24/19||Don’t Count This One Out|
|7||Gunmetal Gray||Jerry Hollendorfer||Mike Smith||2nd in Robert B. Lewis Stakes||G2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19||Gutty Guy Will Do Better Than Expected in Rebel|
|8||Country House||Bill Mott||Luis Saez||2nd in the G2 Risen Star||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||To Try War of Will Again|
|9||Code of Honor||Shug McGaughey||John Velazquez||1st in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Perfect Trip Renders Perfect Finish|
|10||Hidden Scroll||Bill Mott||Joel Rosario||4th in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Speed Figs Love Him / I’m Skeptical|
|11||Galilean||Jerry Hollendorfer||Flavien Pratt||1st in California Cup||G2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19||Now, We Shall See|
|12||Haikal||Kiaran McLaughlin||Rajiv Maragh||1st in G3 Gotham Stakes||G2 Wood Memorial||Gotham Set Up Perfectly / Needs a Hot Pace|
|13||Long Range Toddy||Steve Asmussen||Richard Eramia||3rd in G3 Southwest Stakes||G2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19||Depends on What Division He Gets, But Could Get Swamped Out of Boat|
|14||Sparky Ville||Jeff Bonde||Joel Rosario||1st in G2 San Vicente Stakes||Undecided||Where Does He Go / Louisiana?|
|15||Instagrand||Jerry Hollendorfer||Javier Castellano||3rd in G3 Gotham Stakes||Undecided||Remember Skeptics, First Race Since August & First Route Race|
|16||Tacitus||Bill Mott||Jose Ortiz||1st in G2 Tampa Bay Derby||Undecided||Huge Move, but Expertly Ridden|
|17||Harvey Wallbanger||Ken McPeek||Brian Hernandez||1st in G2 Holy Bull Stakes||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Has Moved Ahead of Stablemate For Now|
|18||Signalman||Ken McPeek||Brian Hernandez||7th in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Looked Very Dull in 2019 Debut / Drawing Board|
|19||Standard Deviation||Chad Brown||Irad Ortiz||2nd in GP Allowance||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Has To Take Giant Step Forward in Next Out|
|20||Roiland||Tom Amoss||James Graham||3rd in the G2 Risen Star||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||Could Be a Shocker in LA Derby|
|1||Anothertwistafate||Blaine D. Wright||Juan Hernandez||1st in El Camino Real Derby||Undecided||Worked Great This Weekend|
|2||Somelikeithotbrown||Mike Maker||Tyler Gaffalione||1st in G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks||Undecided||Turf to Poly — Check / Can He Convert to Dirt?|
|3||Our Braintrust||Mark Casse||Jose Lezcano||3rd in G3 Withers Stakes||G2 Rebel Stakes on 3/16/19||Worked at Casse TC on 2-23|
|4||Tax||Danny Gargan||Junior Alvarado||1st in G3 Withers Stakes||G2 Wood Memorial||Guts|
|5||Dessman||Bob Baffert||Flavien Pratt||2nd in G2 San Vicente Stakes||Undecided||Another Baffert Audible|
|6||Vekoma||George Weaver||Manny Franco||3rd in G2 Fountain of Youth||G2 Florida Derby on 3/30/19||Passed Late / Tiring?|
|7||Mr. Money||W. Bret Calhoun||Gabriel Saez||7th in G2 Risen Star Stakes||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||Dull. Maybe Needed a Race?|
|8||Kingly||Bob Baffert||Drayden Van Dyke||2nd in El Camino Real Derby||Undecided||Beaten 7 lengths. Ouch|
|9||Aquadini||Dallas Stewart||Corey Lanerie||2nd in FG Allowance||G2 Louisiana Derby on 3/23/19||Well Bred / Developing Late / Enough Time?|
We had two major and one semi-interesting prep races on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” this past weekend, but the biggest bang came without a drum roll — just a crash of a cymbal.
Yeah, I know Tacitus got a masterful ride from the masterful Jose Ortiz and won the Tampa Bay Derby, giving rise to his name and game. As a result, the Tapit colt catapults to #16 in his first appearance in the rankings.
Yeah, I know Haikal came running late — looking all the world like a 11/4-mile colt — to win the Gotham Stakes over the imposing Instagrand, Mind Control, and Much Better up in New York. As a result, he runs himself to #12 in the rankings.
And, yeah, yeah, yeah, Somelikeithotbrown beat absolutely no one to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park over the landfill chum of poly track. While the connections may consider the Derby, he is still parked outside of the Top 20 for me — and resides at #2 on the “Others” list.
But the real news came with no news at all.
This past Saturday, we were supposed to see and witness the return to the races of the undefeated, 2YO Champion Game Winner. We were supposed to see the long-awaited matchup and showdown with his roommate Improbable. We were supposed to see the return of the gritty Gunmetal Gray. We were supposed to see the best Kentucky Derby prep of the young season. We were supposed to get the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita — and all of its drama.
Instead, we got to see the green tractors underneath of the backdrop of the beautiful mountains, as Santa Anita’s racetrack was turned upside down — both literally and figuratively — in an attempt to discover why so many horses are having catastrophic injuries while running over and through it.
Instead, we got to see all the West Coast trainers with a horse and an interest in the Kentucky Derby scramble for Plan B.
Instead, we will now get to see how magical and talented the guru of horse training — Bob Baffert — will be able to adjust at halftime and make game-time decisions on what to do next, and how to get his horses back on the right track towards the “First Saturday in May.”
On Sunday, the Santa Anita world journeyed across town to breeze their top contenders at Los Alamitos. Had to get in all of their respective works and exercises. Not the original plan, mind you. But not a bad option, either. And, the world went on without incident.
And, now we know that both Game Winner and Improbable will join up with some others from the West Coast contingency and head to Arkansas for this Saturday’s G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. A place that Bob Baffert has gone and conquered before. After all, he won the Rebel in 2010 with Lookin At Lucky, in 2011 with The Factor, in 2012 with Secret Circle, in 2014 with Hoppertunity, in 2015 with American Pharoah, and in 2016 with Cupid.
So, welcome second home?
“We knew the Rebel was always there, but at first we were thinking not to ship,” Baffert told the media team at Oaklawn Park. “We could come back. We hate to ship twice. It changes things a little bit, but right now we’re going through a little crisis here in Southern California. We never dreamed the day would come they would close down Santa Anita, but we’re getting through it. The main thing is that the 3-year-olds, they worked well. They’re coming up there. I think it’s very nice of them to want to split that race. That’s the key thing.”
Gunmetal Gray and Galilean, from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer, are supposed to make the trip, too.
And, so too are Richard Mandella’s Omaha Beach and Extra Hope, and Kent Desormeaux’s Easy Shot.
In addition, there are the horses stabled at Oaklawn Park that have been pointed to this race all along. Trainer Steve Asmussen has Long Range Toddy, and there are others.
There are so many horses coming from this California rush that Oaklawn Park has graciously decided to split the Rebel into two divisions. Each division will carry a purse of $750,000, and each division will offer 63.75 points to the top four finishers seeking eligibility to the Derby. Both of those issues are critical at this time of year.
So the big bang theory didn’t materialize last weekend. But it is time for it to hit this Saturday
It is Rebel week. It is time for the big boys to come to town. It is time for noise.