Concert Tour sped to the lead at the break and drew off to an easy 4 1/4-length win in Saturday’s $1 million Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park, stamping himself as a major Kentucky Derby contender for Bob Baffert. The Hall of Fame trainer extended his record with an eighth Rebel victory.
Joel Rosario was up as the Gary and Mary West homebred Street Sense colt passed his first two-turn test with flying colors.
“It was a very good race,” Rosario said. “He broke very good and I just let him go on with it. It was impressive for his first time going two turns.”
“You could really tell he was controlling the race,” Baffert said. “This is a really top horse. I was going to be disappointed if he didn’t do what he did today.”
Off as the 8-5 second choice, Concert Tour established splits in :23.42, :47.53, and 1:12 on a short lead while being chased by 6-5 favorite Caddo River. The bay sophomore widened his advantage while turning into the stretch, opening up in commanding fashion, and rolled home in effortless manner while under wraps.
Concert Tour completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.18.
The Rebel awarded points on a 50-20-10-5 scale as a Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier, and Concert Tour elevated his status in a deep Baffert roster that includes the early favorite, unbeaten San Felipe S. (G2) victor Life Is Good.
The six-time Kentucky Derby-winning conditioner added another prospect Saturday when Hozier rallied belatedly to edge Big Lake for second in his stakes debut. A Santa Anita maiden winner in his previous outing, the Pioneerof the Nile colt left the starting gate at 18-1.
“That was nice, impressive,” Baffert said. “I’m just happy to run 1-2. That’s pretty huge. I’m just glad they showed up.”
Big Lake stalked in third during the early stages, and Steve Asmussen trainee was unlucky to not finish second, missing by three-quarters of length after being interfered with by a retreating Caddo River in midstretch. The American Pharoah colt, who was exiting maiden and entry-level allowance wins at Fair Grounds, managed to regain his momentum for third at 18-1.
It was another 1 1/2 lengths to Super Stock in fourth. Caddo River, Keepmeinmind, Get Her Number, and Twilight Blue followed.
Concert Tour improved to three-for-three. He rolled to a 3 1/2-length win when unveiled in a six-furlong Santa Anita maiden special weight on Jan. 15, and came back three weeks later to add the seven-furlong San Vicente S. (G2) as the 2-5 choice, showing tractability to prevail by a half-length.
Bred in Kentucky, Concert Tour is the first stakes winner from the Tapit mare Purse Strings. This is the immediate female family of 2008 champion two-year-old filly Stardom Bound.