'Mandate' Should Be Strong in Rebel Stakes

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

This Saturday, the road to the Kentucky Derby continues as eight talented three-year-olds attempt to take another major step toward Louisville in the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, while across the country at Santa Anita, a wide-open field of older fillies and mares will battle for supremacy of their local division in the $350,000 Santa Margarita Stakes (gr. I). It’s a day of racing you definitely won’t want to miss—let’s take a look at who’s running!

Rebel Stakes (gr. II)

There’s little doubt that Tapiture will be favored off of his eye-catching victory in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn last month, and the Steve Asmussen-trainee appears poised to add a third consecutive graded stakes victory to his résumé. However, it must be noted that Tapiture’s 4 ¼-length triumph in the Southwest was aided greatly by a perfect trip, in which he saved ground throughout while tracking moderate fractions.

In contrast, Southwest runner-up Strong Mandate had a nightmarish trip that day, which began when he got caught extremely wide on the first turn and was forced to check in traffic. As a result, the normally speedy colt found himself in last place for a few moments early in the race. This forced Strong Mandate’s jockey to make a powerful run on the far outside, circling much of the field to secure a position about one length off the lead. Unfortunately, he was still forced to race four wide around the final turn, and went even wider entering the homestretch. With this in mind, I can forgive the way Strong Mandate weaved down the homestretch while switching leads repeatedly. It’s also important to note that the Southwest was Strong Mandate’s first start of the year, and that he had missed some training time before the race due to inclement weather. With a pair of solid workouts under his belt since the Southwest, I think Strong Mandate has what it takes to turn the tables on Tapiture.

On a similar note, I also like Ride On Curlin in the Rebel, as he was caught even wider than Strong Mandate on the first turn in the Southwest, yet still held on to be third after tracking the pace down the backstretch. Having drawn gate two in the Rebel, Ride On Curlin should be able to work out a much better trip on Saturday.

Shipping in from California are Kobe’s Back, who looked tremendous while winning Santa Anita’s seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) last time out; and Hoppertunity, who was most recently fourth in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds for trainer Bob Baffert. While I have great respect for the former, he’s unlikely to encounter a very fast pace in the Rebel, and that could hinder his chances of success as he attempts to stretch out around two turns. But in regard to Hoppertunity, it’s hard to forget the way Baffert has dominated the Oaklawn Derby preps in recent years, so it might be wise to give Hoppertunity a long look – especially since his chances in the Risen Star may have been compromised by a change in running style.

Let me also take a brief moment to mention Street Strategy, who was very impressive when he beat older maidens in a one-mile maiden special weight at Oaklawn on January 30th. He will retain the services of jockey Calvin Borel, and figures to be overlooked a bit in the betting, despite fine form at Oaklawn. Don’t count him out!

Selection: Strong Mandate

Santa Margarita Stakes (gr. I)

Given the way that California’s best older fillies and mares have been exchanging victories all winter, I wouldn’t be surprised see any one of the eight horses in this race emerge on top. I’m intrigued by a longshot named Stanwyck, winner of the Turnback the Alarm Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont last fall. Trained by John Shirreffs, Stanwyck enters the Santa Margarita off of a non-threatening third in the Santa Maria Stakes (gr. II) last month, but a slow start and a moderate pace up front didn’t help her chances.

Front-running Iotapa and Let Faith Arise, the 1-2 finishers in the Santa Maria, are back for a rematch on Saturday, but I expect to see Fiftyshadesofhay flash more speed (while breaking from the rail) than she has in her last two starts, and that could help ensure a faster pace for Stanwyck. It could also help Let Faith Arise, a very versatile filly that flashed good tracking speed when second in the Santa Maria, as well as a powerful late kick when second in the La Canada Stakes (gr. III) two starts back. With this versatility and consistency in mind, she is my pick to win, with great respect to Stanwyck as a longshot to hit the board.

Selection: Let Faith Arise

Who do you like this weekend?


Leave a Comment:


Although the Kentucky Derby picture is bound to see some changes following the Rebel Stakes, I have the feeling that Social Inclusion turned the whole picture upside down with his allowance victory over Honor Code yesterday afternoon. The Beyer speed figure came back as a 111...!

13 Mar 2014 12:14 PM

Today's second race at Santa Anita -- a six-furlong allowance race for three-year-olds -- has drawn a nice field of five up-and-coming young horses, and I think one or more of them will make some major noise later this year. The even-money favorite on the morning line is Cherubim, runner-up behind Kobe's Back in the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) last month.

Also entered to race are Pimpernel, an impressive maiden winner last out for trainer Bob Baffert; Beach Hut, most recently third in the San Pedro Stakes; Rum Point, fourth in the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) but unraced since a last-place finish in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) last November; and Footstepsinbronze, second by a half-length to Home Run Kitten in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race on Santa Anita's downhill turf in January.

13 Mar 2014 12:24 PM

Constitution, winner of a very deep allowance race on the undercard of the Fountain of Youth, will make his stakes debut in the Florida Derby (gr. I) on March 29th: www.bloodhorse.com/.../constitution-to-make-stakes-debut-in-fl-derby

13 Mar 2014 12:34 PM
Rusty Weisner

My morale is good, but somehow the beatings continue.  I'll be back for a little Saturday when I bet the Rebel.

13 Mar 2014 12:39 PM
Pedigree Ann

Keelerman - this is a horse with only 2 starts, both this year! He didn't make his debut until February 22nd. I've seen too many potentially good horses rushed to make the Derby and the fall-out isn't pretty. For every Bodemeister, there are several dozen youngsters who never raced again after the Derby or never regained their pre-Derby form. His owners would be sacrificing his entire potential career to run him in one race; if they care at all for the horse, they won't do it.

13 Mar 2014 12:41 PM
Rusty Weisner


Street Strategy is also the only one of these outsiders I'll consider.  I like a powerful frontrunning win coming after the near miss closing in his debut.

Ride On Curlin' goes up a notch for me seeing Mike Smith.  His rider did him no favors on the first turn in the Southwest, but he still made a strong bid in the race.  He seems keen.  I just have a funny feeling.

I like Strong Mandate, too.  Since I am a general who always fights the last war I can't help comparing him to Oxbow at Oaklawn, where he got hung in the Rebel and was then subjected to the Lukas/Stevens experiment in the Arkansas Derby.  So I'll excuse his last off the return and give him a try.

Hoppertunity seems a reasonable pick, too.  

Do I go against Tapiture?  I don't want to be grasping  at straws by doing so.  Must think...

13 Mar 2014 12:46 PM

Pedigree Ann;

No doubt about it, Social Inclusion is facing a monumental task if his connections decide to point to the Derby. But no matter what happens, I have the feeling we're in for a wild ride! Already, there have been offers to purchase all or part of Social Inclusion for multi-millions, and thanks to his through-the-roof Beyer speed figure, I'm sure a major Kentucky Derby prep race is on the agenda. Throw in the quest to break the Apollo Curse, along with his 85-year-old veteran trainer Manny Azpurua, and I think we have a recipe for some of the greatest Derby trail excitement in recent memory.

13 Mar 2014 1:07 PM

The big three in the Rebel should make for interesting viewing. I have no confidence in Strong Mandate. Since his victoryin the Hopeful he has performed well but has always found one or two better. Ride On Curlin has not improved off his encouraging effort in the Champagne. I cannot see either turning the tables on Tapiture.

An interesting entrant is Sheltowee’s Boy.He was sired by Nobiz Like Shobiz who is tail descendant of Ribot. Horses sired by tail descendants of Ribot are rarely seen on the Derby trail. His dam sire Najran once recorded a WR for a mile. Najran was a grandson son of the great sire and broodmare sire Blushing Groom. The dams of Awesome, Macho Uno, Kahyasi, Lammtarra, T M Opera O, Goldikova were sired by Blushing Groom.

This colt won on debut over 6F in a goodtime of 1:10 and a bit. He tried turf for his 2nd start and was badly beaten. In his 1st start at OP he finished 2nd Burbonize who subsequently finished 6th in the Southwest. His 2nd race at OP was an 8F Allowance on the same day of the Southwest. The final time for the mile race was 1:40.08 as compared to the 1:38.59 recorded in the Southwest. However, the 4F split in the allowance was 46.62 as compared to the 47.92 for the SW.

Sheltowee’s Boy just needs to improve marginally off his last to be competitive in the Rebel. He appear to be a progressive sort and should to be a given a shot to separate the top 3.

13 Mar 2014 1:13 PM
Monarchos Matt


I don't think going against Tapiture is grasping at straws at this price...as Keelerman noted above, he had an easy trip last time while the other two had nightmarish ones. Also notice that they were at close to even weights, and that Tapiture gives 5 lbs to Strong Mandate and 7 lbs to Ride on Curlin this time. I've been waiting to see something from ROC for awhile now (he was my pick in the Southwest), and these Curlin colts seem to often be late bloomers like their daddy. If Saturday is the day, the price will be right.

I like Strong Mandate to win, but I think that if the morning line holds, Ride on Curlin is the better value play. I was looking to play an exacta key with those two on top, but keeping Tapiture in there kills the payoff. Might just stick with a simple place bet on Ride on Curlin at 10-1 or higher win odds.

13 Mar 2014 1:21 PM

Is foundation being over stressed? Did a lack of foundation cost Bodemeister a Derby victory? I’ll Have Another was the only horse that finished ahead of him in both the Derby and Preakness. Remove I’ll Have Another and the Apollo jinx would have been broken.

Did a lack of foundation cost Curlin a Derby victory? He returned two weeks later to win the Preakness and lost the Belmont by a NS. He went on to be two times HOY.

The great Lammtarra had only one start and 362 days between that one start and the Epsom Derby. He won the Epsom Derby in a NTR.

Social Inclusion could just be special and tough enough to take on the 10F of the Derby off three starts. This is assuming he secures the necessary points to make the final cut. Horses are beasts of burden and all they have to do these days is eat, exercise and race in comparison to their previous functions.

The great ones achieve great thing despite the challenges and adversities that confront them..

13 Mar 2014 1:37 PM

There are five horses on the Derby trail whose dams were sired by tail descendants of Turn-To via his son Hail To Reason. They are General A Rod, Bourbonize, Vinceremos, East Hall and Social Inclusion.

There have been seven horses that have won Triple Crown races whose dams were sired tail descendants of Turn-To. I'll Have Another, Grindstone, Giacomo and Charismatic won the Derby. Afleet Alex won the Preakness & Belmont. Summer Squall won the Preakness and Danzig Connection won the Belmont.

The dam sire line of Social Inclusion does have a positive Derby history and this represents another positive for the speedy colt. His biggest positive is that fact that his sire is a grandson of Unbridled the greatest extension of Mr. Prospector. Horses sires by Mr. P and his tail descendants have won 31 TC races.

13 Mar 2014 1:44 PM
Diamond Jim

Still a lot of question to be answered on the road to KY

We'll have to wait 'n see how the fast surfaces convert

to the deeper longer Churchill stretch....Sill ridin' with the Mandate....

13 Mar 2014 2:12 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I'm sold.  I'll do it.  That was my exacta in the Southwest and I'll try it again.

Another straw:  KY VET says Tapiture is about to go bad.  No observations, no explanations, just an oracular pronouncement.  

13 Mar 2014 2:49 PM
Rusty Weisner


I don't like Sheltowee's boy.  I think he got the perfect setup to close into a win at a weak allowance level.  I don't like this kind; I think he will be far behind and very late.  I prefer Street Strategy as an outsider for showing something else in his victory.

13 Mar 2014 2:51 PM

In the Rebel Stakes Tapiture is the one they all have to beat but the five pounds allowance could be significant with a good colt like Koby's Back, which I'm giving the nod to upset the son of Tapit.

Coldfacts: I agree that Sheltowee's Boy is improving under-the-radar and has a good shot in here.

Social Inclusion looked 'Big Brown-esque' in humbling Honor Code at Gulfstream. That was a quite awesome performance and I think that the sky's the limit for this colt. I don't blame the connections for thinking Kentucky Derby with only two starts under his belt ...this one has the pedigree to go all the way ...you have to dream big whenever you have one of these "special ones" with stamina-laiden pedigree and no inbreeding in the first five generations.

Interesting that the California Chrome buzz lasted less than a week with the emergence of Social Inclusion. At least we are now seeing some real quality in this crop. It will be asking a lot from Honor Code to close a 10 lengths gap on a lightly raced, staying colt that ran a 111 Beyer speed, between now and the 1st Saturday in May.

Pedigree Ann: It seems to me that the connections of Social Inclusion are not simply overcome with Derby fever. They have been patient with their charge.

13 Mar 2014 3:21 PM
Rusty Weisner

A 111 on the speed strip in a five-horse field with no pace contention and an ailing favored competitor....I'm skeptical.  I agree with Pedigree Ann.

13 Mar 2014 4:49 PM

Coldfacts: You shouldn't underestimate the importance of foundation in young horses. Lack of foundation quite likely cost Curlin in the Derby and it is interesting to note that Bodemeister lost his zest for racing after his very stressful performances in the Derby and Preakness. As an observer of historcal trends don't you think that there is validity in the Apollo "drought" as much as in the Triple Crown series drought?  It takes a very special horse to overcome the lack of foundation hurdle. Those colts you mentioned ran creditably but FAILED to win the Kentucky Derby. The obstacle is even greater when the 3YO crop has much quality.

Rusty: Be skeptical all you want but that colt Social Inclusion is a monster ...and please, Honor Code was not ailing and ran decently, finishing 10 lengths adrift of the winner in about 1:42 and change ...not a slouchy time for a colt making his 3YO debut in March. Social Inclusion broke the track record while on an afternoon stroll in only his second career start. You've got to know a good one when you see him/her. The lack of foundation issue is real, the Apollo "drought" is there to be broken and it has been 36 years since Affirmed swept the Triple Crown. I'm hopping onto this colts bandwagon while maintaing health respect for my former #1 Derby horse Honor Code, California Chrome, Tapiture, Cairo Prince and the dynamic Florida duo of Wildcat Red and General a Rod. The news is out that Shared Belief is off the Derby Trail but he'll certainly make things evenmore interesting later in the year.  

13 Mar 2014 9:14 PM


"Lack of foundation quite likely cost Curlin in the Derby"

Quite likely; Highly likely; Possibly. The speculation can go on in perpetuity. How is it possible for a lack of foundation cost a horse a Derby victory and 2 weeks later it wins the Preakness defeating the two horses  the Preakness that finish ahead of it in the Derby?

Would an additional two weeks of training and preparation make him the 2007 Derby winner?

"It takes a very special horse to overcome the lack of foundation hurdle."

You clearly missed the section of my post below:

"Social Inclusion could just be special and tough enough to take on the 10F of the Derby off three starts."

Two horses from Europe contested the the BCJ Turf in November of 2010 and 2012. They were put away for their 3YO campaigns thereafter. The made their respective 3YO debuts 4 months later in Dubai on a synthetic track.

They were then taken back to Europe and prepared to contest the Kentucky Derby. The colts finished 5th and 7th in their respective Derbies.

One race on a synthetic track in 5 months in Dubai. Trained in Europe to contest the most difficult race on dirt in the world to win. They defeated 14 and 12 US based horses that had made multiple starts leading up to the Derby.  

Clearly a horse with three starts before the Derby faces an easier task of winning the Derby than the two mentioned above. All horses are in training several months before they make their debuts. That training is part of their foundation. It is some what equivalent to time served.  

14 Mar 2014 1:17 AM

Previously posted on 01/21/2014

Below is a list of horses extracted from the list of betting interest comprising the  1st KDFP. The list also contained he # of mares bred by their respective sires in 2010.

Bobby’s Kitten – Kittens Joy - bred 173 mares

Coup de Grace – Tapit bred 169 mares

Havana – Dunkirk bred 186 mares

New Year’s Day – Street Cry bred 159 mares

Noble Moon – Malibu Moon bred 172 mares

Pablo Del Monte – Giants Causeway bred 217 mares

Ride On Curlin – Curlin bred 150 mares

Shared Belief  - Candy Ride bred 172 mares

Tap It Rich  - Tapit bred 169 mares

New Year's Day is already gone. Tapit It Rich must be a source of major concern as to whether he can provide a suitable return on his $500K purchase price due to   roughish behavior displayed in his last two starts. Bobby's Kitten really be on listed as he is unlikely to be directed to the Derby.

I am prepare to eat a health serving of crow if one the above progeny of of overbred stallions wins the Derby.

14 Mar 2014 8:24 AM

Previously posted Jan. 21, 2014

Below is a list of horses extracted from the list of betting interest comprising the 1st KDFP. The list also contained the # of mare bred by their respective sires in 2010.

Bobby’s Kitten – Kittens Joy - bred 173 mares

Coup de Grace – Tapit bred 169 mares

Havana – Dunkirk bred 186 mares

New Year’s Day – Street Cry bred 159 mares

Noble Moon – Malibu Moon bred 172 mares

Pablo Del Monte – Giants Causeway bred 217 mares

Ride On Curlin – Curlin bred 150 mares

Shared Belief  - Candy Ride bred 172 mares

Tap It Rich  - Tapit bred 169 mares

I am prepared to eat a healthy serving of crow if one the above progeny of an overbred stallions wins the Derby.

Since the above post, Coup de Grace, Havana, Pablo Del Monte, Shared Belief and Tap It Rich left the trail.

It would take a brave individual to predict that Ride On Curlin, Noble Moon or Bobby’s Kitten will win the Derby. I give very little chance of a Derby victory for the likes of Tapiture, Candy Boy, Constitution and Ring Weekend and Intense Holiday.

14 Mar 2014 8:40 AM

Coldfacts: Your 'overbred stallions' theory make for interesting observation ...posters like Sceptre continue to rubbish it with the argumnt that there's no scientific foundation to it. I don't subscribe to your theory but its fun to see out it plays out in handicapping the Kentucky Derby. Sometimes these kinds of observations promt scientific studies that later vindicate theorists such as yourself ...keep up the good work my friend.

Regarding your comment about Curlin's lack of pre-derby foundation "Would an additional two weeks of training and preparation make him the 2007 Derby winner?" I'd say that two weeks make a huge amount of difference in a young horse that may be recovering from prep races and fast work outs ...you should know that. Even one weeks rest can be the difference between a spectacular performance and a no-show/dull effort ...goes without saying.

I'm pretty excite about the revelation of Social Inclusion and would deffinitely want to see this colt sweep the Triple Crown series. His broodmare sire, Saint Ballado, produced Saint Liam (sire of Havre d'Grace and Buddy's Saint) ...perhaps the owners of Havre d'Grace might consider sending her to the promising young sire Pioneer of the Nile who also has standout Derb aspirant Cairo Prince in his firs crop.

The Triple Crown trail is getting hot and I'm also watching reactions to this inferior points system which I predicted will not last very long. Peace.

14 Mar 2014 10:12 AM
Rusty Weisner

It could be a sloppy track for the Rebel.

14 Mar 2014 10:49 AM
Rusty Weisner


One of the reasons the trail is getting so hot is because of the points system.  I like it.  It means Rise Up won't be in the Derby, for example.

14 Mar 2014 10:51 AM
Rusty Weisner


Here's some context.  I was looking at the Oaklawn undercard for Saturday and one of the contenders in the Razorback, Golden Lad, set the course record at GP in his last race before Social Inclusion came along to break it.

14 Mar 2014 11:37 AM

Pimpernel was very impressive winning that six-furlong allowance race at Santa Anita yesterday afternoon. Two scratches reduced the field to just three starters, with heavily favored Cherubim leading the way through blazing fractions of :21.42 and :43.50. Pimpernel tracked in second for much of the race, and appeared beaten while still trailing Cherubim by a length after five furlongs in :55.50, but the Baffert-trained colt found enough in the final strides to get up and edge Cherubim by three-quarters of a length at the finish. The final time for six furlongs was 1:08.75 seconds.

I'm not sure how far Pimpernel really wants to go (he's by Elusive Quality out of the remarkable sprinter Xtra Heat), but I'm looking forward to seeing how he progresses during the course of the season.

14 Mar 2014 1:07 PM
Forbidden Apple


End your losing streak, run to the window tomorrow and bet all of your cash to win on Kobe's Back!

14 Mar 2014 1:27 PM
Pedigree Ann

Coldfacts - citing how horses are trained in Europe make no difference to how we do it in the US. They quit flat racing at the start of November and don't start it again until the latter part of March (except for the lower level horses who run all winter on AW). Their horses don't train at racetracks; they train on open gallops in the countryside, laid-out on normal, undulating terrain. They need no hot-walkers - their horses cool off as they are ridden at a walk a mile or so back to their stable from the gallops. Trainers often train at the full distance of the upcoming races. (This was one of the practices of old-time trainers in this country, whose expertise has been discarded in favor of sheet-guys' info and pharmaceuticals.)

14 Mar 2014 1:56 PM
Rusty Weisner

Forbidden Apple,

Thanks, I'll consider him.  Can you tell me anything about Majestic City in the Razorback?  His trainer, Ron Ellis, has one horse at Oaklawn tomorrow, this one.  Also, Govenor Charlie - I hated him last year as a TC contender, but he seems like legitimate here with a good race in the interim.

14 Mar 2014 2:00 PM

Rusty: The proper context is to evaluate Social Inclusion's performance against the track condition and other performances on that day. Golden lad won in a different scenario. The latter may yet validate SI in the Razorback.

Also, you should not yet write off Rise Up's chances ...all he had was a pipe opener in the Risen Star ...he be more competitive next time.

14 Mar 2014 3:06 PM
Rusty Weisner

Anyone playing the Oaklawn card Saturday?  I'm thinking of singling a horse called Hornet in race 7.  Steve Asmussen got rid of him, dropping him way down to this low level in his last, where he finished a distant 3rd behind a runaway leader, but it was a comparably fast race; he's basically dropping a level again.  

Does anyone like Don't Tell Sophia in the now G2 Azeri?  I'm surprised by her 5-2 ML - I don't like her against the big two she's up against, Close Hatches and On Fire Baby.

14 Mar 2014 4:28 PM

Forbidden Apple: We seldom agree and the Rebel Stakes is one such time. Kobe's Back looks like a cinch at the weights. Tapiture should hold off Sheltowee's Boy and Strong Mandate for the minor placings. Ride on Curlin is kind of a mystery horse to me ...looking more like a sprinter/miler type but its not too late for a surprise from him.

14 Mar 2014 5:49 PM

I just looked at the Timeform figures and for his complete body of work Strong Mandate is the most consistent runner in the field since he Timeformed a 96 when he broke his maiden at Saratoga in his 2nd race he hasnt rin below that figure.

I think its Strong Mandate 1st or 2nd in the Rebel.

Rusty Weisner bring on the downpour lets see how well they handle it.

14 Mar 2014 8:00 PM

My heart and my gut tells me Tapiture regardless of weight allowance and track condition which favors Strong Mandate and Kobe's Back.

In 2000 Steve  took our horse Snuck In off a layoff to the Rebel and won it then finished second in the ARK DERBY. Steve has been running at Oaklawn for more than a decade and has done quite well.

Now for Karma.

Steve trains Tapiture and Untappable Can we say Oaks Derby Double? Steve nominated for Eclipse award. Is this coincidence or something else?

My knock is Tapits may not be able to go 10 furlongs however Tapiture is by Olympio on the Dam side who won the Ark derby and his dam sired horses who won at 10 f. Coldfacts what are your thoughts. Hanson made me a lot of money when I Hit the Tri in the B C but I got off the Derby bandwagon because of distance limitations. Oh well I took enough space already. Good Luck all!

14 Mar 2014 8:15 PM
Mary Zinke

Someone asked about Don't Tell Sophia in the Azeri. Yes, I like her. I like Flashy American, too. 6,4,3,1.

I'd like to see Kobe's Back win the Rebel. I like Tapiture, but I'm biased towards fast Cali babies. 8,4,3,2(5)

14 Mar 2014 11:11 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Just one for me at OP:

R6  2 Voodoo Storm flew home in his local bow despite the wide trip on a surface we deemed severely Speed Biased.

15 Mar 2014 9:20 AM

Recently Kent Desormeaux has been riding like a man possessed. He has booting home longshots when least expected. His services have been retained for Ride On Curlin.

Prior To Social Inclusion's track record performance. ROC was the only horse on the Derby Trail to have recorded a NTR on dirt. He set that NTR on the front end of the particular race. His connection refused an offer of $1M after his record setting performance.

Although he was prominent in Iroquois as the 2-1 favorite, he failed to quicken and finished 4th. Two lengths ahead of ROC in third was Tpiture the recent Southwest winner. He was surprisingly 8L behind the larders in the G1 Champagne but rallied with Honor Code to get within 1 3/4L of winner Havana. Strong Mandate who finished ahead of him ROC in the Southwest was 8 1/4L behind him in the Champagne.

This colt's performances have been disturbingly inconsistent. He is obviously talented but on a given day, it is impossible to determine which ROC will be on display. This is the ideal horse for the experienced Mr. Desormeaux who has an affinity of getting talented horses to perform at their best.

Tapiture defeated ROC by 2L in the Iroquoi. ROC defeated Strong Mandate by 8 1/4L in the Champagne.  Tapiture and Strong Mandate defeated ROC by 10L and 5 3/4L respectively in the Southwest. This clearly does not represent their superiority over the Curlin colt. ROC recorded splits of 21 4/5 & 45 4/5 in a winning effort at OP preceding the Southwest. That colt did not show up next time out. At a ML of 12-1 and with his encouraging exercise spins, Mr. Desormeaux has been presented with yet another opportunity to light up the tote board.

15 Mar 2014 10:30 AM
Pedigree Ann

Ranag-whatever: Rise Up's only wins were at minor tracks. Both times he has run on upper echelon regular dirt 1-mile ovals in stakes races he has been up the track. He might be a good candidate for the Sunland Park races, as Baffert shippers haven't been as overpowering this year as they have been in the past.

15 Mar 2014 10:45 AM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Thanks for the tip.  If that track was biased it impacts choices for me in a couple other races -- that R7 Hornet, for example, ran behind a loose leader on the same day.  The Razorback, too.

15 Mar 2014 11:14 AM
Rusty Weisner

It will be total slop in Hot Springs.

15 Mar 2014 11:14 AM
Rusty Weisner


I like Strong Mandate, too.  I'll take him with Ride on Curlin' in an exacta and in 50-cent P3 & P4 tickets, where I'll stick with Close Hatches & On Fire Baby, take five or six in the Razorback, and take 3,9,10 in the last race.

15 Mar 2014 11:23 AM
Rusty Weisner


It's my impression that when the community here get all over a horse, like Ride On Curlin...they're right.  I'm in, too.

15 Mar 2014 11:24 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Ride On Curlin ?

He was soundly beaten by horses both in front and in back of him in a perfectly neutral SW Stakes.  He needs to make 4 lengths on a horse that was equally wide over the entire trip and who was coming off an extended lay-off.  He's 12-1 to beat that one,  never mind the likes of Kobe, Hopp, and Tap, etc.

Good luck.

15 Mar 2014 11:42 AM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Too big a figure to be an 'if',  but yes,  Hornet is live,  though 6-1 seems a bit high to me.  Street Spice gets a grade as well,  but takes a tougher next step than Voodoo.

15 Mar 2014 11:46 AM
Rusty Weisner

I predict Strong Mandate will go off the favorite in the slop, alas, because of his Saratoga performance.

15 Mar 2014 11:55 AM

Rusty Weisner & Plod Boy Phil,

I cannot counter your respective views on ROC. The cold facts are not in his favor and he certainly does not inspire confidence.

If either Honor Code or Havana were in the Rebel they would probably be 1st & 2nd in the MLs. ROC was only 1 3/4L behind Havana and Honor Code in the Champagne. Where has that colt gone? Will he pay us a visit today?

Rusty you are high on Strong Mandate. He recorded his worst performance in the Champagne where he was beaten 10L. Was he better than that performance? Certainly! He finished 8 3/4L behind ROC and 10L behind Havana. He returned a month later to finish only 1 1/4L behind the said Havana in the BCJ.

The Southwest was the 2nd meeting between Strong Mandate and ROC. He defeated ROC by 5 3/4L. That represented a margin reversal of 14 1/2L between the two races. Has Strong Mandate improved 14 1/2L over ROC? Has ROC declined by a similar margin since their last meeting? Is he just inconsistent? I would conclude he is inconsistent.

Based on ROC’s PPs, the Southwest was by far his worst performance. Strong Mandate bounced back a month later from his worst performance. Why discount the possibilities of ROC bouncing back for his worst?

Is this the type of horse that Kent can use to continue his recent string of upset victories? I conclude yes. The colt has proven that he has above average ability with his performance against the colts that finished 2nd and 3rd in the BCJ. Unless handicappers have concluded he has seriously regressed, he must be given a good shot to upset.

NB: he set a NTR when he was drawn at PP#1. He finished 3rd in the G1 Champagne when he was drawn at PP#2. He is drawn at PP#2 in the Southwest. A good break and he is going to the front on a wet track.

15 Mar 2014 12:51 PM

Rusty Weisner,

Sheltowee’s Boy won on debut over 6F in a good time of 1:10 and a bit on a sloppy tack. His dam sire line goes back to Blushing Groom a serious mud influence.

His first race at OP was in the slop. I think he will relish muddy conditions.

15 Mar 2014 12:57 PM
El Kabong

Like Street Strategy to take this. I like a super ticket here, Tapiture, Strong Mandate, Kobe and Hopportunity under. I'll play a backup keying Street Strategy second to this group as well.

Rusty, I heard Nancy Holthus remark that the bad weather looks to be coming later in the evening at Oaklawn. Either way I'm going with my picks. Street Strategy, Strong Mandate, and Tapiture all have great breeding for the off track conditions, and indeed, Strong Mandate has shown it. I love seeing Olympio blood on off tracks(Tapiture). It's rare they don't relish the off going. Good Luck to all. This is a very good race, I can't wait to see it run.

15 Mar 2014 1:00 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Thanks for the cold water in advance of the rain.  I'll take it under advisement.

Yes, 6-1 is too high.  3-1.

Azeri?  This was an unpleasant surprise for me last year when I had a lot of money riding on it.

Good luck everyone.

15 Mar 2014 1:06 PM
Rusty Weisner

El Kabong,

I think it's wide open, too, and considered a bigger ticket with the "single" in the Azeri, but not worth the money for a potentially chalky payoff (despite the rain).  I'll stick with the two I have in the Rebel.  I had Mike Smith on the wrong horse; he's on Hoppertunity, though I'm not crazy about that one; he picked off some horses in that long stretch run, but that's it.

15 Mar 2014 1:27 PM

Another terrific Saturday of racing has arrived! I'm really looking forward to the Oaklawn card this afternoon. Aside from the three graded stakes races, I'm particularly excited about the sixth race, an 8.5-furlong allowance race for older horses. The race has drawn a very deep field of proven stakes winners, including Bourbon Courage, Sabercat, Guilt Trip, and even good old Win Willy, winner of the 2009 Rebel Stakes. Win Willy hasn't been in the best of form this year, but he may get a decent pace to run at today if the speedy Joy Boy acts as a rabbit for Bourbon Courage.

In the Razorback Handicap, there seems to be plenty of speed lined up (Taptowne, Right to Vote, Govenor Charlie, Majestic City) so I'll take a try with Called to Serve. Yes, he hasn't run in over a year, but he's turned in a number of solid workouts in preparation for his return, and he should get a good pace setup.

In the Azeri, Don't Tell Sophia has been a picture of consistency at Oaklawn, and I think she can give Close Hatches and On Fire Baby a real run for their money.

Good luck, everyone!

15 Mar 2014 1:28 PM
Forbidden Apple


I love Govenor Charlie in the Razorback, he's lightly raced and has excellent tactical speed. I do not know much about Majestic City. He is dropping 9 pounds and always seems to come closing for a piece.


Race 4 #7 Fingers Crossed, first time lasix and first start as a 3 year old.

Race 10 #8 Kitten's Point, I like her closing kick and you should get a square price.

S.A. race 7 #6 Stanwyck needs a fast pace to run at, if she gets the right pace she can close sharply for the win.

15 Mar 2014 1:39 PM

Just saw on DRF.com that Kristo, runner-up in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) and third in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita, will target the Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct for his next start.

15 Mar 2014 1:45 PM

El Kabong,

I reviewed Street Strategy's PPSs and he should come running when it's being decided. His speed figures suggest he does not belong but he did work 1:13 which was the 6F split in the Southwest.

His connections paid 425K for him and consequently he must have been appealing in the sale ring. I never underestimate a horse from the Mr. Prospector sire line.

15 Mar 2014 1:52 PM

Forbidden Apple;

I also like Kitten's Point in the Honey Fox Stakes. I think she's sitting on a big season this year.

15 Mar 2014 3:25 PM

Could Golden Ron being sitting on a big effort in today's sixth race at Oaklawn? He was the runner-up in the Razorback Handicap last year at odds of 26-1, then threw in a couple of disappointing efforts in April and May before heading to the sidelines. He returned in January to finish a solid sixth in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race at Oaklawn, and is now stretching out to a more ideal distance. With a morning line price of 20-1, does anyone like him to steal the race?

15 Mar 2014 3:34 PM
Little Bill

Keelerman, I'm on Golden Ron 2,3,7,8, box. Cyber Secret was as tough as they come last year at OP. At least as tough as they were at OP.

15 Mar 2014 4:01 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Not that you would know Lil' Bill,  but Golden Ron was the horse I bet at the gate because of his 'pawing' as they went to the gate in the Razorback last year.  

15 Mar 2014 4:35 PM
Little Bill

Guilt Trip scratched, insert Bourbon Courage.

15 Mar 2014 4:40 PM
Little Bill

Phil, you are correct Sir, I did not know. Funny though.

15 Mar 2014 6:53 PM
Little Bill

Like Stanwyck

15 Mar 2014 6:56 PM

Bafferts in with Hoppertunity, and you know what hes part of the ALL OTHERS for all three derby futures.Thats about the only good thing that happened for me as Strong Mandate didnt finish.

Going back to the last derby futures, The Spiral and Sunland Derby are the next scoring races next weekend that we will see before we have to make our FINAL BETS.I think it will be interesting to see if Social Inclusion is one of the top 23 betting interests because Hoppertunity will be on that list, and depending on who scores points in those two races next weekend it could get very crowded in the top 23.Social Inclusion will be excluded IMO.

15 Mar 2014 7:32 PM

Rusty Weisner: In the light of Gulfstream Park's preious track record setter,Golden Lad's romp in the Razorback, don't you think its time to join me on the Social Inclusion Triple Crown sweep wagon (LOL). Remember that your skeptical assessment of Social Inclusion's quality was put by you in the context of Golden Lad's track record at Gulfstream which SI broke. Now in order to be consistent you really should review your evaluation of the colt. I look forward to your company on the wagon ...plenty of room right now.  

Pedigree Ann: We are in for quite a ride this season. I'm interested in your insights into a comparison of the pedigree of Social Inclusion and Cairo Prince with respect to classic distance stamina. Both colts carry Rough N'Tumble, Aspidistra and inbreeding to Mahmoud on the Dam side (shades of Holy Bull) but I think that Social Inclusion has deeper stamina roots bolstered by the multiple presence of Blue Larkspur. Whats your take?

15 Mar 2014 9:34 PM
Rusty Weisner

"I think it's wide open, too, and considered a bigger ticket with the "single" in the Azeri,..."

Argh.  The "biggest ticket" I considered consisted of Strong Mandate, Tapiture, Ride On Curlin, Hoppertunity.  $75 50-cent P4 ticket would have paid $240 and I had the rest.  But you know what?  150 bets is too much.  I'm happing losing and sucking it up.

15 Mar 2014 9:42 PM
Rusty Weisner

I bet blind today.  Was it sloppy?  Didn't even look.  Wish I had recommended the winner in Oaklawn 11, as I liked it better than the 3 or 9 -- had trouble in its debut and still finished strong, and was a "horse" not a 3-yo.

15 Mar 2014 9:44 PM
Rusty Weisner


Hope you bet that Joy Boy.  I had ALL in R6 but singled Hornet in R7.

15 Mar 2014 9:44 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Skepticism ?

I think not.  Rather, a statement of fact if I dare intercede.  Correctly analyzing the impact any race has on the form cycle of a single horse is a trying task in itself,  never mind attempting to apply it to the performance of an entirely different animal, from a different day.

15 Mar 2014 11:00 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Keelerman -

You were the nuts with Let Faith Arise.

15 Mar 2014 11:03 PM
Rusty Weisner


I think your making a mistake similar to the one you made with Verrazano last year.

To let you know where I'm coming from, two of the most embarrassing bets I've ever made were on Quality Road (in the Travers?) after his 116 Beyer and Bellamy Road in the Derby (he at least gave me 6f of excitement, as I would have won a $10,000 P4 on him).  Those have really stuck with me. Bernardini had a similar performance profile to the latter, but he was pushed into shallower waters in the Preakness.

16 Mar 2014 10:03 AM
Pedigree Ann

Who should have come down in the Rebel? I think it was Ride On Curlin, who came out on Strong Mandate and, eventually, Tapiture. Hoppertunity seemed to come in, but it the others hadn't been pushed out, there would have been room for them to run as well as they could.

16 Mar 2014 10:21 AM

Ride On Curlin as I suspected ran an improved race but was just not good enough to win the Rebel. His 9-1 starting price was very attractive and way too long based on his PPs.

Hoppertunity ran extremely well and might have been the beneficiary  of the mud influence of his dam sire Unaccounted For. He is from the powerful Mr. Prospector sire line. Can another son od Distorted Humor that was trained by Todd Pletcher sire another Derby winner? It is a reality that is unthinkable. He appears to have the grinding style to win the Derby if the speed breaks down.

Tapiture is one of the 124 live foals reported from the 169 mares bred by Tapit in 2010. He will make the Derby field but a Derby winner sired by an overbred stallion is unlikely.

16 Mar 2014 12:43 PM
El Kabong

Pedigree Ann,

There were two incidents in the lane. The first where Tapiture comes out into Hopportunity creating a lane by bulldozing Hopportunity out of his way. Foul One.  Then a second, as you correctly point out, Ride on Curlin does leave his lane moving to his right by at least a full lane, bumping  strong mandate who then bumps Tapiture, who bumps with Hopportunity, who did come in by a step, as Tapiture came out by a step recovering from his bump. So, I agree here that Ride on Curlin did compromise a tiring Strong Mandate and Tapiture, who finished ahead of him anyway. The only DQ possible because of finish order was a flip of Ride on Curlin and Strong Mandate. That would have been big too for Strong Mandate's points. They have to feel a little cheated about those 10 points which could have solidified SM's trip to the Derby.

16 Mar 2014 12:47 PM
Rusty Weisner

El Kabong,

You've got the order of the incidents confused.

What a crazy, inconclusive race.  Strong Mandate had no excuses, Ride On Curlin drifted and came up short, again, Hoppertunity unknown, and on top of it, slop. I don't like any of them at this point, Derby-wise, though.  

17 Mar 2014 10:05 AM
Rusty Weisner

50-cent P4 ticket would have been $60, not $75.  Still too much.

17 Mar 2014 12:29 PM

DRF.com has reported that Midnight Hawk, Chitu, Commissioner, and Global Strike are among the probable starters for the March 23rd Sunland Derby (gr. III) at Sunland Park: www.drf.com/.../sunland-park-derby-attracts-pair-pletcher-and-baffert-barns

17 Mar 2014 12:53 PM
El Kabong


I don't follow your order. The incident with Tapiture and Hopportunity happens at the head of the stretch. The second incident involving all 4 horses happens at about the 1/16th pole. How did you see it?

On another note, Hopportunity's success reflects well on Albano and Intense Holiday. Looking forward to that rematch and challengers who think they can hang with those two.

17 Mar 2014 1:37 PM
Rusty Weisner

El Kabong,

Sorry, I just caught the tail end of the replay, with ROC drifting out and then Tapiture's move through the hole.

I like the Risen Star, too -- everything seems to add up to count it as a strong race: Hoppertunity, a good beaten favorite with a tough post, a logical winner.

17 Mar 2014 4:45 PM

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