Brad Cox seems to be winning virtually every Kentucky Derby (G1) prep in the central part of the country this winter, while Steve Asmussen kicked off the current racing week by becoming the first trainer in history to win 10,000 races. It is no surprise, then, that these two forces figure to play a large role in Saturday’s $1 million Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park.
Cox and Asmussen will have a combined five runners in the 11-horse Rebel, a 1 1/16-mile test which offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 50-20-15-10-5 to the respective top five finishers.
The two Cox runners will bookend the trio from the Asmussen barn in the first five stalls. Verifying breaks from post 1 after a scorching 5 1/4-length allowance win over a mile on Jan. 14, a return to form after the son of Justify finished second in the Champagne (G1) and sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). His stablemate is Giant Mischief, who scored a maiden win at Horseshoe Indianapolis and an allowance at Keeneland before finishing second in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park in December. However, the son of Into Mischief was ineligible to earn the four Derby points for his placing due to running on Lasix.
Asmussen’s entries include Red Route One, a clear second to Arabian Knight in the Southwest (G3) last month, and Gun Pilot, who makes his stakes debut after winning two of three in overnight company, his only loss being a second to Verifying in the aforementioned allowance. Also lining up is Powerful, one-length winner of the 6 1/2-furlong Ed Brown S. at Churchill Downs when last seen Nov. 26.
Reincarnate, a gutsy winner of the Sham (G3) at Santa Anita in early January over stablemates Newgate and National Treasure, debuts in the Rebel for Tim Yakteen, who takes over training duties from Bob Baffert, whose runners are ineligible to accrue Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Breaking to his immediate right in post 7 is Confidence Game, a distant third in the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds five weeks ago.
The most experienced member of the field is Frosted Departure, who will be making his 11th start in the Rebel. The Kenny McPeek trainee captured the six-furlong Renaissance S. on Dec. 31 and followed up with a distant third-place finish in the Southwest.
The Rebel is the 11th of 12 races on Saturday. Free Brisnet past performances of the race are available here.