Mar 22, 2013
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-REBEL-AZERI
By: JOE GIRARDI
There was just one Derby Prep over the weekend of March 16th-17th. That race was the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, a Grade II Stakes run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $600,000. As far as points for the Kentucky Derby, 50 for 1st, 20 for second, 10 for third and 5 for fourth.
Before we look at that race we will look at the undercard stakes, the Grade III Azeri run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $150,000. There was a field of five that went postward and this marked the four year old debut for former two year old champion MY MISS AURELIA. She only started four times at 3 with two wins, a second and third. She finished second to ROYAL DELTA in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita but ended her three year old campaign with a disappointing third as the 2-5 favorite in the Grade I La Brea, also at Santa Anita. Breaking from post 5 in a field of 5, MY MISS AURELIA sent off at 4-5, settled in second behind runaway leader SONGS AND SONNETS. As they moved down the backside, SONGS AND SONNETS opened up a big lead but the fractions were very moderate, 25, 49, 1:14:1. As they moved around the far turn, MY MISS AURELIA started to close in the on the leader with DON’T TELL SOPHIA the 9-5 second choice moving in tandem as they entered the lane. As they entered the stretch, DON’T TELL SOPHIA moved to the lead over MY MISS AURELIA but TIZ MIZ SUE, the fourth choice in the race and the defending champion moved outside and put in a big run to roll on by for the win at 8-1. DON’T TELL SOPHIA was a clear second by over four lengths and MY MISS AURELIA checked in a very disappointing third. Going forward you would need to see a big turnaround from MY MISS AURELIA to get back to her previous form.
The Rebel Stakes was the next race on tap. There was a field of 11 that went postward with 10 betting entrants. The favorite in the race at 6-5 was Bob Baffert’s SUPER NINETY NINE, who was coming off a huge win in the Southwest over this track a month earlier. That day in the Southwest, run over a sloppy track he scored wire to wire by more than 11 lengths. When the gates opened, TITLE CONTENDER, part of the entry that was sent off as the third choice, came out running for the lead, holding out SUPER NINETY NINE and making him chase from second. As they continued down the backstretch through fractions of 23:1, 47, 1:12:1, SUPER NINETY NINE began to gain on the leader with second choice OXBOW in close pursuit. As they moved into the lane, OXBOW and jockey Mike Smith took over the lead from the favorite and moved into the clear. However, as they moved down the stretch he was quickly challenged by WILL TAKE CHARGE under Jon Court. Those two battled down to the wire with WILL TAKE CHARGE getting his head in front at the wire to score a 28-1 upset. OXBOW and Mike Smith held on for a clear second while DEN’S LEGACY checked in third. SUPER NINETY NINE was a different horse when he wasn’t able to clear for the lead and tired to finish fifth as the favorite. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who hasn’t been as prominent in the game over the last few years trained the top two finishers. Both horses have put themselves right on track to the Derby and could both make the starting gate. Others from this race that could make an impact on the Triple Crown as some point would be obviously SUPER NINETY NINE, who showed the talent and might have an off day. TREASURY BILL, is another that could make an impact going forward. He was making his first try around two turns and didn’t get the best of trips. He was squeezed at the start, had some traffic when turning for home and just never was able to get it going. He hails from the barn of the very sharp trainer, Ron Ellis and is one to look for as the years goes on.
There are two preps over the weekend of March 23rd-24th. However, the last week of March and the first two weeks in April, the big six preps will be run and hopefully try to clear up the Kentucky Derby picture.
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