Friday, March 18, 2011

The Rebel Stakes Racing Roundup

Bob Baffert won his first Rebel Stakes (G2) last year with Lookin At Lucky and he’s hoping to make it two in a row when he sends The Factor to the starting gate tomorrow as the 2-1 morning line favorite in 51st running of the $300,000 guaranteed stakes race.

The Rebel will be the first test for The Factor who has yet to run in a route race but the 8 ½ - furlongs should be well within his scope. However, whether The Factor can flash the brilliant speed he has shown in his last two races and win going gate-to-wire remains to be seen.

War Front, the sire of The Factor, was a champion sprinter but he has proven middle-distance runner on this year’s trail in Soldat who won the 9-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) last month at Gulfstream Park.

Danzig, the grandsire of The Factor, sired Danzig Connection (1986 Belmont Stakes), Pine Bluff (1992 Preakness Stakes) and Dance Smartly (1991 Canadian Triple Crown winner); and his sire line, mostly through his son Danehill, has produced numerous Classic Champion Thoroughbreds worldwide.

Miswaki, the damsire of The Factor, was mostly a sprinter but he sired Urban Sea – winner of the 1993 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Factor is a descendant of the Northern Dancer sire line and since 1990 that line has produced three Kentucky Derby winners, seven Preakness winners and three Belmont winners. Since 1990, the Northern Dancer sire line has produced four winners of The Rebel Stakes.

In the tail-female line, The Factor is a descendant of Bonnie Doon (Family 10-c) and that line produced Sarava (2002 Belmont) and Don Enrique (1907 Preakness).

The Factor definitely has speed and it remains to be seen just how far he wants to run. Nevertheless, with two bullet work outs since his brilliant victory in the San Vicente Stakes (G2), The Factor should be competitive in The Rebel.

Elite Alex (8-1) is a talented young colt I’ve been following for some time. He’s never been out of the money in three starts and he comes into the race with a third-place finish in the Southwest Stakes (G3).

One mile is the farthest Elite Alex has run and he has yet to show the same brilliance of his sire Afleet Alex who also took the Oaklawn route to a third-place finish in the 2005 Kentucky Derby (G1) and a win in the Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1). Afleet Alex finished sixth in the 2005 Rebel but prior to that he had already run in seven races and boasted a 5-2-0 racing record.

Elite Alex is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and that line has produced 10 Kentucky Derby winners, 11 Preakness winners and 13 Belmont winners since 1990. That line has also produced eight winners of The Rebel Stakes since 1990.

Elite Alex’s damsire is Unbridled, winner of the 1990 Kentucky derby, and he is trained by Tim Ritchey who also trained Afleet Alex.

The running style and pedigree of Elite Alex indicate that he should perform better as the races get longer and a bullet work out on March 6 indicates that Elite Alex may be ready to run a good race.

Sway Away, the 5-2 morning line second-choice, is a young colt I wrote about in my 2011 Kentucky Derby Outlook. In three starts, Sway Away has never been out of the money and he comes into the Rebel off of a fast-closing second-place finish to The Factor in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

Sway Away is also a descendant of Afleet Alex and I look for him to perform better as the races get longer.

Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew is the damsire of Sway Away and Summer Squall is the sire of his second dam Golden Gale. In the first five generations of the tail-female line, Golden Gale is the most accomplished racer with a win in the Beaumont Stakes (G2) and the Opa Locka Stakes.

In Sway Away’s tail-female seventh generation is the outstanding broodmare Late Date who is ranked 12th on Roger Lyons of Pedigree Matters Top 40 Dam Lines of SW’s, 1995 to Present.

Sway Away’s tail-female line descends from Remembrancer Mare (Family 8-f) and that line produced the Belmont winners Rags To Riches (2007), Jazil (2006), Birdstone (2004) and Blue Larkspur (1929).

Jeff Bonde trains Sway Away and he won The Rebel in 2008 with Sierra Sunset.

Archarcharch (8-1) was my long shot pick in the Southwest Stakes and I like him in the Rebel.

With Arch, the sire of Breeders’ Cup Champion Blame, as his sire, Woodman as his damsire and Nureyev the sire of his second dam, the Rebel should be well within the range of Archarcharch and I look to move forward off of his victory in the Southwest.

A bullet work out on March 15, his second since training at Oaklawn, indicates that Archarcharch could be ready to run a good race.


Cal Nation is a horse I wrote about in my 2011 Kentucky Derby Outlook. He’s a close relative of Brethren and I really like his pedigree. Tomorrow, Cal Nation makes his second start in a one mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

Cal Nation won his maiden debut by 7 ¾ - lengths last month in a 7-furlong sprint at Gulfstream Park and may be too short to make a legitimate run at the Kentucky Derby. But I’m interested to see if WinStar points him to the Preakness or Belmont.


  1. CC,

    And what bout ArchArcharch?
    And you gotta use alternation in the exotics

  2. Anonymous,

    I like Alternation and it was a difficult decision to leave him out of my blog profile.

    I read that the connections of Elite Alex may scratch him out of The Rebel and run him in the Louisiana Derby next weekend. If that happens, I would put Alternation in the lineup.

    Archarcharch was my long shot pick in the Southwest and he's my long shot in The Rebel.

  3. Mr. Carter, The Factor looked like a race horse of some note to me. Your take? Maybe the experts will rank him above Dialed In and To Honor and Serve in their next posting. Bob Bright

  4. Bob Bright,

    Mr. Bright I agree. The Factor was very impressive.

    I think that Bob Baffert, more than most, has a good idea of the potential of his horses. I thought The Factor would be competitive and that’s why I included him in my race profile.

    In the 51-year history of The Rebel, The Factor’s time of 1:42.19 was the 7th fastest behind Smarty Jones’ time of 1:42.07.

    As I watched the race I couldn't help but reflect on your previous comment “If ‘The Factor’ holds his form thru 9 panels then the pucker factor in the Mo camp will max out.”

    That will be a sight to see and I’m looking forward to see The Factor continue his journey on the trail to the Kentucky Derby.

  5. Calvin Carter,
    I am sure you recognise there is a chink in The Factor's Emotional Conformation. This chink could be a significant problem for the competition. If he gets loose on the lead who goes after him. Dangerous to both The Factor and whoever.

    I reckon after The Rebel the Mo camp is considering a different race tactic for their #2 horse. I would., you can't count on some other horse doing the dirty work.

    Do you know The Factor's Beyer? I heard Beyer touting Uncle Mo on NPR today. I suspect the figure will be conservative? Bob Bright

  6. Bob Bright,

    Mr. Bright I have not heard what Beyer The Factor received for The Rebel.

    This quote from Bob Baffert is most revealing and echoes what I previously said about Baffert knowing his horses:

    “I thought he might run like that,” Baffert said [about the 1:42.19 clocking of The Factor in The Rebel]. “He was doing that well.”

    Here’s the link to the story:

    So far on the trail, the two most impressive performances for me have been The Factor in The Rebel and Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe. What was so impressive about the Factor is that he won going gate-to-wire and finished up very strong at the end.

    It appears that The factor should be able to easily handle 9-furlongs and that is a big test I use to gauge how well these young colts may handle the distance of the Kentucky Derby. I want to see how strong The Factor finishes going 9-furlongs.

    I don’t know what the plans are for the Mo camp but The Factor, with two brilliant wins as a 3-year-old, is primed and Uncle Mo has some catching up to do.

    As you stated in a previous post, Uncle Mo did not get anything out the Timely Writer and his performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which was four months ago, was not as impressive as The Rebel.

    Here’s Uncle Mo’s fractions in the Breeders’ Cup:

    23.91, 47.53, 1:11.92, 1:36.33, 1:42.60

    The Factor’s Rebel:

    23.33, 46.77, 1:10.98, 1:35.99, 1:42.19

    Uncle Mo showed some brilliance last year in the Champagne and he’ll have to step up his game in his next race.

  7. Mr.Carter,

    The Factor received a 103 Beyer, Better then anticipated.

    Thanks for the fraction comparison..I was going to look it up.

    I agree with your comment about the two Cal horses having the most impressive races so far. The MMM horse also had a nice outing,. Most east coast preps so far have looked as though the horses were running in molasses.

    The tempo is picking up and I believe the Mo camp will regret the Timely Writer parade.

    3 current year preps prior to the Derby sets a horse up nicely, particularly if there is improvement in each outing. It settles the mind somewhat so the horse doesn't go into sensory overload at the CD circus. Trainers are focused primarily on physical conditioning.

    I reckon you live in the east so illuminating those two west coast horses might make you the target of a Joe Drape investigative piece.

    Bob Bright

  8. Bob Bright,

    I agree, three preps is minimun - I'd like more. The tempo is picking up and I'm looking forward to see these young colts run 9-furlongs.

    Actually, I live a few miles from Churchill Downs and this time of year is exciting.

    Mr. Bright, thank you for the commentary. It's a valuable contribution to the blog and I appreciate it.