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Mar 13, 2015

American Pharoah odds-on to win Rebel Stakes


Hot Springs, AR ( - Eclipse Award winner American Pharoah has been made the overwhelming 1-2 morning line favorite for his 2015 debut in Saturday's $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Rebel is the final local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 11. A win is worth 50 points toward a place in this year's Kentucky Derby.

American Pharoah, last year's champion 2-year-old male, will start from post 4 in the seven-horse field as he begins his 2015 racing season. Trained by Bob Baffert, American Pharoah will be ridden by Victor Espinoza who retains the mount.

"He knows the horse," Baffert said about Espinoza. "He's a fast horse, but he puts him in a place where he's comfortable. He's not a speed freak and he's not rank. He still needs to break well and get around there. A lot is expected of this horse, but he hasn't run in a while, although we feel confident he's going to run well."

American Pharoah, owned by Zayat Stables, has not started since winning the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita last Sept. 27. He missed the last three months of 2014 with a suspensory-related injury.

As a 2-year-old, American Pharoah won the Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3 after finishing fifth in his debut race last August. American Pharoah has earned $361,500

Bob Baffert won last year's Rebel with Hoppertunity and previously won with Secret Circle (2012), The Factor (2011) and Lookin At Lucky (2010).

The Truth Or Else, second in Oaklawn's Southwest Stakes, is the 4-1 second pick and has drawn the rail post with Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel again riding. The chestnut colt is owned by Harold Lerner and trained by Ken McPeek.

The Truth Or Else came from well off the pace to get second behind Far Right in the Southwest on Feb. 22.

"If we can get a little bit cleaner inside trip than we had last time, I think we'll be fine," McPeek said.

The 3-year-old was third in last year's Champagne and Nashua Stakes and sixth in the Remsen Stakes on Nov. 29 at Aqueduct. The Truth Or Else has earned $197,950 in eight starts.

Champion filly Take Charge Brandi will not start the Rebel after an injury was discovered Tuesday morning. The 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner has a non-displaced chip in her right knee and will miss 60 days.

Here is the field for the Rebel in post position order: The Truth Or Else, Calvin Borel, 4-1: Madefromlucky, John Velazquez, 6-1: Tizwonderfulcreek, Belen Quinonez, 30-1; American Pharoah, Victor Espinoza, 1-2; Bold Conquest, Ricardo Santana Jr., 8-1; Paid Admission, Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1 and Sakima, Ramon Vazquez, 20-1.

The Rebel Stakes has an approximate post time of 7:06 p.m. ET.

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