Big Points Up for Grabs at Rebel and Other Kentucky Derby News

The annual Run for the Roses continues to draw closer, which means each stakes race gets more and more important in terms of stockpiling points for Churchill Downs positioning.

Recently, the always-popular $600,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park was run. There were 50-20-10-5 points up for grabs to the top four finishers. This race has traditionally been a good testing field for colts to see where they’re at just a few months prior to the Kentucky Derby and which future races they should be entered in.

Big Hoppertunity

The story from this year’s Rebel was Hoppertunity, as owner Mike Pegram walked away a winner after Hoppertunity captured one of the closest races of the year.

Hoppertunity won an intense four-horse battle down the final furlong, edging out the likes of Tapiture, Ride On Curlin and Strong Mandate in a race that saw plenty of bumping and jostling down the final stretch.

The race was so close and so physical, in fact, that there was a steward’s inquiry into the stretch run – but the three Oaklawn Stewards decided to let the final standings stay set, noting that all four horses were “straightening out into the stretch.”

Pegram was thrilled with the response as there were 50 Kentucky Derby points up for grabs for finishing first at the Rebel. By taking all 50, Hoppertunity bolted to second overall on the leaderboard with 55 (trailing only Samraat, who tops all with 60 points).

Bettors also scored big too. The Bob Baffert-trained Hoppertunity had 10/1 morning line odds going into the race. Tapiture sat higher on the online horse odds at 9/5.

Tapiture and several other horses received major Kentucky Derby points as well. Tapiture now has 42 points – good for seventh overall – while Ride On Curlin now sits 14th (with 15 points) after earning 10 points for his third-place finish.

Strong Mandate, who earned five points from his fourth-place finish now sits 20th (with 11 points) on the leaderboard.

Pletcher, Baffert Going to New Mexico

Two of the biggest and best trainers in the game will have their colts on hand at the Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico.

Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert will each run a pair of horses in the grade 3 stakes (with an $800,000 tag), it was announced. Baffert will run Midnight Hawk – who rose to prominence earlier this season by capturing the Grade 2 Stakes in San Felipe – and Chitu, who recently put forth a solid second-place showing at the Grade 2 Lewis.

Pletcher confirmed that Commissioner and Global Strike will both run in New Mexico. Both have shown well this season and won separate races at Gulfstream Park. As for jockeys, Pletcher has indicated that John Velasquez will ride Commissioner while Javier Castellano has the mount on Global Strike.

About Tennessee Leduc

Born in Summersville Kentucky, Tennessee is an impassioned fan of horse racing, women, civilized debauchery, and... mint juleps. He writes, he reads, he listens, but above all he experiences the world he lives in.

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