Super Lookin Scar Face: The Rebel, San Felipe & Tampa Bay Derby
Posted by Brian Appleton on March 12, 2010
Last year one colt held the uncontested lead in the juvenile male division. After posting a record of 5 wins in 6 starts with his only loss coming by a mere head in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, this colt literally ran away with the divisional championship and took a solid lead as the favorite for the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Lookin At Lucky has slowly been losing some esteem it seems since his victory in the CashCall Futurity and subsequent long rest before returning to the work tab. It is as if people think his time away from the races has somehow allowed a little rust to spread on his shiny coat. Some of it could be the fact that he enters into his 2010 debut in about as difficult a prep race as is possible. Or it could be the fact that super-charged Kentucky Derby contenders have quickly been cropping up left and right throwing talent around more loosely than a ping-pong ball in a tournament and taking some of the attention away from the reigning champ.
The Rebel Stakes (gr.2) at Oaklawn Park is loaded with talent this year and leading the field is 2 Year Old Champion Lookin At Lucky. But for a troubled trip, an unlucky post and the distance of a nose this brilliant son of Smart Strike would be undefeated. Trainer Bob Baffert may know how to train a horse for the Kentucky Derby better than any other man alive and he has handled Lookin At Lucky’s career flawlessly so far. The 3-year-old colt faces a few new challenges this time around. The Rebel will be his first start on dirt, first time shipping and first time wearing blinkers. This is his race to lose but it will be no cakewalk. Entered against him are grade 1 winners Noble’s Promise and Dublin.
Noble’s Promise will be hoping for a different view than his last few races this
time around. In his last two starts there have only been two different horses between him and victory. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile he was nosed out of second place money by Lookin At Lucky and then was defeated by ¾ of a length by that one in the CashCall Futurity last out. This will also be his first start on dirt but his breeding suggests that it should not be a problem. He has been working his shoes off at Gulfstream Park and appears primed for a big effort.
Dublin carries the hopes of trainer D. Wayne Lukas into the Rebel as his best Kentucky Derby prospect in years. The venerable trainer, who trained such greats as Winning Colors to victory in the Kentucky Derby 1988, trained
Dublin to a Grade 1 victory last year before two consecutive unplaced efforts to close out his juvenile season. After having surgery to correct an entrapped epiglottis Dublin came back on February 20th to finish a strong closing second in the Southwest Stakes behind undefeated Conveyance. Lukas believes he will run a much improved race in the Rebel off his Southwest performance.
Uh Oh Bango and Cardiff Giant help complete the field. Cardiff Giant finished 3rd in the Southwest to Conveyance and Dublin last out, while Uh Oh Bango finished runner-up to Rule in the Delta Jackpot (gr.3).
The San Felipe Stakes
(gr.2) is even more full of talent than the Rebel Stakes which is hard to believe considering the Rebel line-up. Undefeated Caracortado, who’s name in Spanish means Scar Face, heads the field as the favorite off his impressive victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr.2). The California-bred gelding burst onto the scene by defeating highly-touted American Lion and Tiz Chrome in a ridiculously easy performance during the Lewis. A big strapping 3-year-old trained by little-known Michael Machowsky and ridden by small time jockey Paul Atkinson, Caracortado has won all five of his lifetime races with ease and authority that demand respect. He is the big cheese this time around and looks like he deserves the favoritism awarded him.
American Lion returns for a second crack at Caracortado after his
seemingly dull 3rd place effort in the Lewis. Winner of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes last year, American Lion must improve off his last effort in order to prove he belongs in the Kentucky Derby gate.
Robert B. Lewis Stakes second place finisher Dave in Dixie also returns for another try against Caracortado here. In the Lewis Stakes his delayed late closing kick caught the eye of more than a few people and many more will be watching him this time around. If he can improve off his last effort, this race could very well end up being his party. There will be plenty of pace for him to close into with the entry of front-running Sidney’s Candy, so his running style will be perfectly suited here.
San Vicente victor Sidney’s Candy takes a major step-up in class in the San Felipe. He won the San Vicente by more than 4 lengths after leading gate-to-wire in his last start. Jockey Joe Talamo retains the mount.
From the ultra-talented stable of trainer Todd Pletcher comes the turf running Interactif. The two time grade 3 winner makes his first start on
synthetics in the San Felipe. He enters off a second place finish as the favorite in the Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park after being out-finished to the line by a nose. Grass form translates well in many instances to synthetics so if Interactif can reproduce his winning grass form in the Sal Felipe he stands a good chance.
Caracortado, Dave in Dixie, American Lion, Sidney’s Candy and Interactif all entering the gate together, this is no doubt one of the deepest Derby preps in recent memory.
The Tampa Bay Derby (gr.3) is yet another seemingly talented field.
Super Saver makes his highly-anticipated 3-year-old debut for Todd Pletcher and WinStar Farms. After his impressive five length wire-to-wire Kentucky Jockey Club victory last year, he has retained a good position on most Derby watch lists. His works leading up to the Tampa Bay Derby have been exceptional and trainer Todd Pletcher thinks he is ready to run a big effort here without peaking.
Uptowncharlybrown finished 3rd in the Sam Davis Stakes behind 2nd place finisher Schoolyard Dreams. Both look to improve their game this time around and need to if they hope to progress on toward the Kentucky Derby.
The horse many people will have their eyes on Saturday will be once-defeated Odysseus, the incredibly talented allowance winner who blew his last race open by 15 lengths. This will be his stakes debut and judging by the way he handily defeated his competitors last out, a stakes race is right up his alley. I think he could be the wild card here and might very well take the field.
This weekend is the kind of weekend most of us racing enthusiasts sit around dreaming about for half the year. Aside from the unbelievable line-up of races like the Rebel, San Felipe, Tampa Bay Derby, New Orleans Ladies Stakes and Santa Margarita, the Gulfstream Park Handicap with Cool Coal Man, Harlem Rocker and Grasshopper is also slated to be run. On top of that, 3-year-old filly Bickerson’s is running in the Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct and Champion Two Year Old Filly She Be Wild attempts to return to her winning ways in Florida. Enjoy watching the races and good luck to everyone with all your picks and favorites.