Held every year in mid-March, the Rebel Stakes is the second of three big stakes races at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas to feature three-year-old horses looking to pick up points toward a start in the Kentucky Derby. Rated as a Grade 2 stakes, the Rebel is run at a distance of 1 1/16 miles on the Oaklawn dirt course, and in 2016 carried a total purse of $900,000. The Rebel Stakes was first run in 1961 as a Handicap race, and was given graded-stakes status in 1990. Check back here before and after race day for contenders and odds information and Rebel Stakes results following the race.
Rebel Stakes Picks
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Rebel Stakes Racing Tips
In recent years, the best tip anyone can offer when handicapping the Rebel is to take a close look at any horses saddled by trainer Bob Baffert. The California-based Baffert has simply dominated the race over the past few years, winning three straight races from 2010 to 2012, and three straight again from 2014 to 2016.
His winners include Lookin' At Lucky, who went on to win the Preakness Stakes; Secret Circle, who the next year won the Breeders' Cup Sprint; Hoppertunity, who has banked almost $4 million in earnings to date; and American Pharoah, who simply dominated the 2015 racing season on his way to winning the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Classic.
With a fairly short run into the first turn at Oaklawn for the 1 1/16 miles Rebel, it's important to consider horses that have shown early speed in the past performance so they can get a good position from the gate and not get hung out wide going around the turn. In fact, in three of the last five runnings of the race, the winner has been the horse in first place going into the turn, and in one other of those races the eventual winner was never more than three lengths behind the early pacesetters.
Another consideration for the Rebel is often the condition of the track, as rain isn't unusual in Arkansas in early spring, and in fact two of the last four Rebels have been run on wet or sloppy tracks. Once again, a look at the past performance information will give bettors an idea of which horses, if any, have had previous success on off tracks, and those horses should be played in excta and trifecta bets, even if they are not considered as one of the race favorites.
And even if front-running horses have tended to win the Rebel in recent years, deep closers have just as often shown up in the Place and Show positions, and should also be given some consideration when putting together a combination ticket with one of the exotic bets.