A field of 13 is set to compete in the Grade 2 $500,000 Rebel Stakes which will run Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Headlining the field is Bob Baffert’s Secret Circle, who won the second division of the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes February 20 over the Oaklawn dirt. In that race, he managed to stay a half-length in front of fellow Rebel competitor Scatman.
Secret Circle earned a Brisnet speed figure of 103 in the Southwest, while Scatman earned a 102. It was the first triple digit figure for Scatman, but the fifth for Secret Circle whose lifetime average Brisnet figure is 103. He’s certainly a fast horse, but has never attempted farther than a mile. In his two one mile starts, he’s finished second by a half-length (the Grade 3 Sham Stakes) and first by a half-length (the Southwest). He looks good to win this race, but Secret Circle may turn out to be a sprinter like Baffert’s 2011 Rebel Stakes winner The Factor
Scatman, the son of Scat Daddy, has two wins and two seconds in five lifetime starts. Although he couldn’t get to Secret Circle in their last meeting, the Mike Lauer trainee has shown improvement and may be able to continue his upward movement in his third start since a three-month layoff.
A newcomer the pair will have to contend with is Steve Asmussen’s Sabercat, who’s making his first start this year. He won his last two starts—the ungraded Garden State Stakes and the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot—by a combined 10 lengths. Sabercat has won his last three races, so he’ll be an interesting one to watch in his sophomore debut.
The longshot play has to be the stakes first-timer that jockey Calvin Borel will take to the gate. Najjaar is a first crop son of 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil. He’s won his last two races which were run at 1 1/16 mile on the Oaklawn track. Borel was aboard for Najjaar’s last win and helped the colt reach his highest speed figure of 90. Win or lose, this looks like a colt we’ll see throughout the Triple Crown trail.
Rounding out the field of 13 are Unbridled’s Note, Cyber Secret (trained by Lynn Whiting who won the 1992 Kentucky Derby with Lil E. Tee), Optimizer (son of turf champion English Channel), Jake Mo, Atigun, Reckless Jerry, coupled entry of Ring It Up and Pee H Dee, and Adirondack King (third in the Southwest).
The race is the 10th on Oaklawn’s Saturday card and is scheduled to run at 6:48 p.m. EDT. It can be seen on TVG.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby