Baffert's Super Ninety Nine leads Rebel field
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - Trainer Bob Baffert will try to win the $600,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park for the fourth time in a row on Saturday.
Baffert has two horses entered, including the 3-2 morning-line favorite Super Ninety Nine, who won the Southwest Stakes last month by 11 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track.
Todd Pletcher-trained Delhomme is making his first start of the year and opened as the 7-2 second choice. D. Wayne Lukas is running two horses, with Oxbow opening at 4-1 and coming off a second-place finish in the Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
The Rebel is a prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 13, and offers a total 85 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on May 4. The winner earns 50 points, with 20 for second, 10 for third and 5 for fourth.
The field should have a better track for the Rebel with the forecast calling for clear skies and temperatures in the high 70s.
Baffert-trained horses have won the last three Rebels and Super Ninety Nine is the heavy favorite for the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 2 race. Super Ninety Nine will again have Rafael Bejarano aboard, this time breaking from the far post in the 11-horse field.
Baffert is also sending out Den's Legacy, owned by Joe and Scott Ford of Westrock Stables of Arkansas. Like Super Ninety Nine, Den's Legacy is shipping in from California for the race. He'll break from the No. 6 post under Robby Albarado.
Oxbow, at 4-1, will have Mike Smith aboard. Lukas is also running Will Take Charge, a 15-1 shot who won the Smarty Jones Stakes in January. Oxbow is in the 10 post.
"They came out of their works in good order,'' Lukas said. "I spoke to Mike briefly last week. Of course, it doesn't have to be a lot of conversation with a rider like him. I'm just going to put him on the horse and send him out there.''
Owners Gary and Mary West have two horses running at 5-1, including Treasury Bill, trained by Ron Ellis. He's paired with Title Contender, based in New Orleans and trained by Wayne Catalano. Treasury Bill was second in the San Vicente at Santa Anita last month.
Corey Nakatani will be aboard Carve, a 15-1 shot trained by Steve Asmussen.
"All's well and the work went as planned,'' Asmussen said. "We got a little lucky that this was (Carve's) normal set and we were able to get him out and back without any problem. We feel good about where he's at. That's what we were looking at today and he's on the way to the Rebel like we'd been pointing him.''