Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rebel Stakes Racing Roundup

Southwest Stakes (G3) Division II victor Secret Circle returns to the starting gate today for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the 52nd running of the $500,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

Secret Circle narrowly won the Southwest by a half-length over a front-running Scatman (8-1) who also returns for today’s contest. While 8-furlongs may be the best distance for both horses, they should have the breeding to stretch out further.

As a 3-year-old, Eddington, the sire of Secret Circle, won the 9-furlong Calder Derby and finished third in the Gotham Stakes (G3), Wood Memorial Stakes (G1), Preakness Stakes (G1) and Travers Stakes (G1).

Dixieland Band, the damsire of Secret Circle, won the 9-furlong Pennsylvania Derby at the age of three and he’s also is the damsire of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.

As a 3-year-old, Scat Daddy, the sire of Scatman, won the 9-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and Florida Derby (G1). Grand Slam, the damsire of Scatman, won the 9-furlong Peter Pan Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Swaps Stakes (G2).

While it remains to be seen if Secret Circle and Scatman have any classic potential, I look for them to be competitive in today’s race.

A young colt that intrigues me the most is Najjaar (6-1) who definitely has the breeding to be a classic prospect and a win in today’s race would be a step in the right direction.

Jazil, the sire of Najjaar, won the 2006 Belmont Stakes (G1) and his dam, Better Than Honour, is also the dam of 2007 Belmont winner Rags To Riches.

Darshaan, the damsire of Najjaar, won the 1984 French classic Prix du Jockey Club and he’s also the damsire of the classic champions Marienbard, Sendawar, High Chaparral and Darsi. As a sire, Darshaan sired the classic champions Mark of Esteem and Dalakhani.

In addition, Shirley Heights, the second damsire of Najjaar, and Mill Reef, the third damsire, were also Classic Champion Thoroughbreds and sires of other classic champions.

Najjaar appears to have been a slow developer, finally breaking his maiden on the fifth attempt when he made his 3-year-old debut in January at Oaklawn Park. Najjaar followed up that win with another victory on March 2 traveling the same route of ground at the same track.

In six career starts, Najjaar has been in the money in five of those races and another move forward will make him competitive in today’s race.

A long shot I like is Jake Mo (20-1) who was a 2¾-length runner up to Castaway in the first division of the Southwest Stakes last month at Oaklawn Park.

In eight career starts, Jake Mo is one of the more seasoned runners in the today’s field and he’s finished in the money five times. The Rebel will be his first attempt for Jake Mo to run 8½-furlongs and he has the breeding to perform better as the races get longer.

Giacomo, the sire of Jake Mo, won the 2005 Kentucky Derby and his damsire, With Approval, was the 1989 Canadian Triple Crown winner and Canadian Horse of the Year.

A sharp work out on March 4 and another move forward in his third start for the season will make Jake Mo competitive at a nice price.

Sabercat (5-1), making his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel off of a three-month layoff, already earned his spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate when he cruised to a 4-length victory in the Delta Downs Jackpot at Delta Downs last November.

Sabercat may not be in top form, just yet, as trainer Steve Asmussen will be looking for him to peak going into the Kentucky Derby. However, if he repeats the form of his Jackpot win last November he should be competitive.


  1. Hi Calvin, not happy with the 92 Beyer. Older fillies covered the same distance much faster. Maybe Optimizer was not running as well if Secret Circle was pulling himself up. Loses beyers from all races, with the added distance. Suspect in ARK.

  2. Barry,

    Najjaar and Sabercat were the two colts in the Rebel I was most interested in and it looks like they'll need to improve their game considerably. We'll see how they run in the Arkansas Derby.

    Currently, Howe Great and Dullahan are at the top of my list from this group of 3-year-olds and will remain there until I see how the others fare at 9-furlongs.

    Others that I like and will be watching for are Creative Cause, Bodemeister, Castaway, I’ll Have Another, Gemologist, El Padrino, Mark Valeski, Union Rags, Alpha and Prospective.

    In my 2012 Kentucky Derby Outlook, I profiled Howe Great, Creative Cause and Sabercat and those remain on the trail while Sky Kingdom, Algorithms and Consortium are off the trail with injuries. Discreet Dancer, Empire Way and Brother Francis did not live up to expectations and Battle Force was not nominated.

  3. Hi Calvin, there is alot of uncertainty which remains. Thus far, it has been hard to fine a true 1 1/4 horse. Including Rags

    Something has to give, and soon