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2017 Rebel Stakes Picks and Analysis

American Anthem logical but Petrov possible overlay in 57th Rebel Stakes

2017 Rebel Stakes -G2, Race 10, Oaklawn Park, Saturday, March 18, 2017
3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16-miles, Dirt, Purse: $900,000

Rebel Stakes Picks

  • 1. American Anthem
  • 2. Petrov
  • 3. Untrapped
  • 4. Royal Mo

Rebel Stakes Analysis

Trainer Bob Baffert will try to win his fifth straight Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday and there's a very good chance he'll do that with morning-line favorite American Anthem.

It all depends on the ride.

Mike Smith will be aboard the $435,000 Bodemeister colt and he won this race in 2015 aboard Hoppertunity with same kind of off the pace style he'll likely need to coax out of his mount today. That shouldn't be too much of a problem, as American Anthem broke his maiden at Santa Anita from just off the pace in his first lifetime start, but he'll have to avoid doing what he did in his second start if he wants to win this race.

In his second start, the sloppy one-mile Sham Stakes-G3 at Santa Anita, American Anthem went right to the lead and ended up under increasing pressure from Gormley throughout. He actually lost the lead to that rival in early stretch, but fought back gamely through the lane to lose a tight photo. 

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That race took a round out of Gormley, who came back to run a wilting fourth in the San Felipe Stakes-G2 in his next start, but it also showccased the heart of American Anthem.

It's been five weeks since that race, which should be just enough time to have American Anthem primed for a big effort in the Rebel, but he likely can't do it on the lead. Even though he's probably the classiest speed in the race, there are just too many others in here that could take a round out of him and set the race up for a horse like Petrov.

Horses that showed speed in their previous starts include Silver Bullion, Uncontested, Malagacy, American Anthem and Royal Mo. Royal Mo had a relatively easy trip on the lead to win the R B Lewis-G3 at Santa Anita in his last and he too could be class speed, but he also passed horses to finish second in a maiden race three starts ago. Coming from off the pace would likely be a better strategy for him here. Uncontested totally wilted with an easy led as the favorite in the Southwest Stakes-G3 at Oaklawn in his last, so we won't be using him. The other speed in here is moving up in class but the race still sets up with as many as five horses trying for the lead. 

Possibilities in the second flight include Petrov, American Anthem, Appalachian Gem, Silver Dust and maybe Royal Mo depending on his strategy.  Risen Star Stakes-G3 runner up Untrapped and Sonneteer should also be within five lengths of the pacesetters, while Southwest Stakes third place finisher Lookin At Lee will rally from the back of the pack.

If American Anthem happens to get an easy lead in here he can wire the field. With that strategy being unlikely based on the other speed, we're guessing he'll press the leaders while rating and then make his winning bid into the stretch. He'll then have to hold off the workmanlike Petrov, who has been a disadvantaged second chasing lone speed horses in his last two starts, the Smarty Jones and the Southwest Stakes, both at Oaklawn.

If the projected pace battle develops, Untrapped should rally for a piece and Lookin At Lee should close from the back of the field to pick up third or fourth in the superfecta. We're not sure what Royal Mo will do, as he's another who could possibly open up early and steal it if sent hard early.

If American Anthem is over bet and Petrov is left alone on the odds board, we'll likely bet Petrov to win and place at a square price of 9/2. We'll also box American Anthem and Petrov in the exacta and use them first and second and first and third in our trifectas and superfectas with Untrapped, Lookin at Lee, Sonneteer, Appalachian Gem and Royal Mo. 

We'll include a few ALL legs in there somewhere too, just in case something crazy happens.

Crazy is good.

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