April 15, 2024

Timberlake a strong early favorite in Rebel

Timberlake in the Champagne at Aqueduct
Timberlake records a smashing win in the Champagne at Aqueduct (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Joe Labozzetta)

Timberlake, dominant winner of the Champagne (G1) last fall, will make his sophomore debut as a likely strong favorite against a dozen rivals in the $1.25 million Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.

A convincing 4 1/4-length win in the Champagne over a sloppy track was book-ended, however, by two mildly disappointing efforts by Timberlake. Favored in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga, Timberlake finished second to the unheralded Nutella Fella in a slow renewal of the historic race. Last time, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita, Timberlake made little impression on runaway winner Fierceness when settling for fourth money, eight lengths behind the champion.

Timberlake’s record on paper still looks superior to that of his Rebel rivals. He was made the 6-5 morning line favorite for the 1 1/16-mile affair, which awards Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points of 50-25-15-10-5 to the respective top five finishers.

Few runners from the 11-horse Southwest (G3) are being wheeled back in three weeks, though one notable is Just Steel, who finished second in both the Southwest and the Jan. 1 Smarty Jones S. Among the Southwest also-rans back in for another shot is Carbone, who wilted to seventh after showing early foot as the 9-5 favorite.

Another is Common Defense, the fifth-place finisher who is joined by fellow Kenny McPeek trainee Northern Flame, a gutsy allowance winner over Mena going one mile on Jan. 28.

In addition to Carbone, trainer Steve Asmussen will also be represented by Dimatic, a Gun Runner colt who broke his maiden third out three weeks ago, and Lagynos, sixth in the Smarty Jones after setting the pace for the first time in his career. Another who might attract play is Time for Truth, who stretches out after a second-place finish in the six-furlong Ozark S. two weeks ago.

Three-year-old fillies will have a crack at Kentucky Oaks (G1) qualifying points in the $400,000 Honeybee (G3) over 1 1/16 miles. Like the Rebel, trainer Brad Cox has the horse to beat in West Omaha, who exits a five-length score in the Silverbulletday S. at Fair Grounds.

Band of Gold, upset winner of the Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn three weeks ago, is also among the field of 10, as is the undefeated Mockingbird S. heroine Midshipman’s Dance. Returning from a winter break is Alys Beach, a tiring third in the Alcibiades (G1) when last seen in October.

The $600,000 Razorback H. (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles has attracted recent allowance scorer Magic Tap and Fifth Season S. upsetter Promise Keeper among its expected field of 12. The early favorites for the $150,000 Carousel S., a six-furlong dash for older fillies and mares, are dual allowance winners Mucho Macho Girl and Zeitlos.