The Oaklawn racing department listed at least seven probables Friday morning for the Grade 2, $1 million Rebel Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles next weekend. The Rebel is Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race, a series that concludes with the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 1.
Expected Rebel entrants are Bourbon Bash for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Confidence Game (Keith Desormeaux), Frosted Departure (Kenny McPeek), Giant Mischief (Brad Cox), Gun Pilot (Steve Asmussen), Red Route One (Asmussen) and Verifying (Cox).
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was expected to be represented in the Rebel, a race he has won a record eight times.
Talladega, a front-running maiden special-weight graduate Jan. 28 at Oaklawn for trainer Rodolphe Brisset, is being considered for the Rebel.
Cox (four) and Baffert (three) have combined to win seven of Oaklawn’s last 10 Kentucky Derby points races, including the first two in 2023. Unbeaten Victory Formation (Cox) captured the Smarty Jones Stakes at one mile Jan. 1. Baffert won the Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 28 with unbeaten Arabian Knight, who was not nominated to the Rebel.
Saturday’s race will bring back the two-three Southwest finishers in Red Route One and Frosted Departure, respectively. Verifying, in his 3-year-old debut, was a powerful 5 1/4-length, first-level allowance winner Jan. 14 at Oaklawn. The son of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify covered a mile over a fast track in a meet-best 1:37.23. Gun Pilot, second to Verifying on Jan. 14, returned to post a sharp two-length, entry-level allowance victory at one mile Feb. 4 at Oaklawn. Bourbon Bash finished second in the race.
Lightly raced Giant Mischief, who is 2-for-3, will be making his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel. The son of champion sire Into Mischief concluded his 2022 campaign with a troubled runner-up finish in the Remington Park Springboard Mile on Dec. 17. Confidence Game finished third in the Lecomte (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 21 at Fair Grounds in his last start.
Post positions for the Rebel and two other Feb. 25 stakes races, the $300,000 Honeybee (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles and the $150,000 Carousel for older female sprinters, will be drawn Monday. The Honeybee is Oaklawn’s second of three Kentucky Oaks (G1) points races.
Early Honeybee probables include the Cox-trained Wet Paint, who won the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 28 at Oaklawn.