Rebel Stakes Picks – Oaklawn Park – Race 10

Sway Away the Choice at Square Price in 2011 Rebel Stakes

by Kenneth Strong, Horse Racing Handicapper,

2011 Road to the Kentucky Derby

Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn Park, Race 10, Saturday, March 19, 2011

3-Year-Olds, Grade II, 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Purse $300,000

Rebel Stakes Picks

1. Sway Away

2. Archarcharch

3. The Factor

4. JPs Gusto

Longshots: Calebs Posse, Pickos Pride, Elite Alex, Alternation

The Factor will favored as he attempts to carry his natural speed from seven furlongs to 1 1/16-miles in the 51st running of the $300,000 Rebel Stakes on Saturday at Oaklawn Park, and anyone who watched him win the 7-furlong San Vincente-G2 at Santa Anita on February 20 would be right in thinking he could be vulnerable on the stretchout.

Of course, theres also the possibility that The Factor will outclass the 12 Kentucky Derby hopefuls he faces on Saturday while making his second start off a two-month layoff. Its difficult to imagine any other horse running with him early and still finishing in the money. He will at a minimum, take care of the other speed. He does have enough pedigree to get the distance and the trainer pattern percentages for Bob Baffert are solid across the board for numerous angles including the fact that he won this race last year with Lookin at Lucky. If The Factor gets an easy lead he could be long gone, but at a short price were going to take a shot on a rallier who is also fun to watch.

Sway Away makes his second start off a seven-month layoff for trainer Jeff Bonde and appears to have plenty of upside. He also loves to run. As a 2-year-old he came flailing away down the lane to finish second beaten only a half-length in the Best Pal Stakes-G2 going six furlongs at Santa Anita and he did the same thing in his comeback going seven furlongs to finish second beaten only three-quarters of a length by The Factor in the San Vincente.

Sway Away is likely to improve in his second start off the layoff, he has some proven class, and rider Garret Gomez should have him figured out now after the San Vincente. A contested pace would definitely help his chances, but at this point he appears to be the classiest among the rallying types and youll get your moneys worth enjoying his willing but uncoordinated stretch run. There is a slight chance he could bounce off his opener, but at a fair price, hes the play. If he throws a clunker here, well probably play him again next time at what will likely be a much higher price.

Archarcharch and JPs Gusto will take some tote action off their first and second place finishes respectively the one-mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 21. Archarcharch was wide throughout and surged to the lead at the top of the stretch, holding well in the drive to win by a length in his second stakes try. J Ps Gusto had to wait briefly in late turn but were thinking he wasnt going to beat the winner in his first start off a two-month layoff even with a clean trip. He could be expected to naturally improve in this race in his second start off the layoff, but trainer Joe Petalino wins at only a nine percent clip on that angle. Top New York-based jock Ramon Dominguez sticks with J Ps Gusto however, and thats enough reason to include him in the exotic wagers.

Calebs Posse is a sleeper who actually had some legitimate trouble in the Southwest Stakes. He wouldnt have won that race, but he might have finished second if not blocked late on the final turn and early in the stretch. He altered course late to finish sixth on the outside and should be expected to run better with a clean trip.

Pickos Pride finished a willing fourth beaten 3 -lengths in his first stakes try in the Southwest Stakes and while the trouble listed in his Past Performance lines for that race wasnt as bad as some say it was, he could improve again in his third start off the layoff. He also fits the angle of improving in his second start after a class raise.

Elite Alex finished a decent third beaten 2 -lengths in the Southwest, which was his first stakes try, and could also improve in his second start in this company, but he didnt have as much trouble to deal with in the Southwest as Calebs Posse and Pickos Pride. Alternation looked sharp rallying to win a condition allowance race by a widening 3 -lengths at Oaklawn Park going 1 1/16-miles on February 21 and has been working well for his stakes debut. He could rally for a piece at a nice price.

If The Factor gets and easy lead and wires the field, the payoffs are unlikely to be enticing. Wed rather play Sway Away first and second with Archarcharch, J Ps Gusto, The Factor, Calebs Posse, Pickos Pride, Elite Alex and Alternation in the exactors, trifectas and superfectas with a few minor tickets also using all in the third position. If one of our longshots wins the race and Sway Away finishes second, the payoffs should be excellent, especially if The Factor runs out of the money. What are the chances of that? Heres hoping!

Good luck!