Cupid can give Baf­fert sixth Rebel Stakes win

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Mary Ram­pellini – Jay Priv­man

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – It would hardly feel like a Rebel Stakes at Oak­lawn Park with­out the pres­ence of a horse trained by Bob Baf­fert, who has won the Ken­tucky Derby prep race five times dat­ing back to 2010, most no­tably last year with even­tual Triple Crown win­ner Amer­i­can Pharoah.

Cupid car­ries the hopes of Baf­fert in the Grade 2, $900,000 re­newal of the Rebel on Satur­day. He was one of 14 horses en­tered Wed­nes­day in the 1 1/16 -mile stakes for 3-yearolds. Oak­lawn has a max­i­mum gate of 14, while its tote board man­ages 12 in­ter­ests, and as such, Cre­ator and Mad­tap will be cou­pled for trainer Steve As­mussen, as will Z Royal and Gray Sky for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

The Rebel will share a card with the Grade 2, $350,000 Az­eri, led by the cham­pion mare Un­ta­pable, and the Grade 3, $350,000 Ra­zor­back Hand­i­cap, led by Up­start. The three races are worth a to­tal of $1.6 mil­lion and make for the se­cond most sig­nif­i­cant pro­gram of the meet be­hind Arkansas Derby Day on April 16.

Cupid will break from post 3 in the Rebel un­der Martin Gar­cia. He en­ters off a 5 1/4-length maiden spe­cial weight win last month at Santa Anita. Cupid was mak­ing his two-turn de­but in his third ca­reer start. He is a $900,000 son of Tapit who races for Michael Ta­bor, Su­san Mag­nier, and Derrick Smith.

Cupid ar­rived Tues­day aboard a flight from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia that also brought Hope­ful Stakes win­ner Ralis for the Rebel. Sud­den­break­ingnews, the win­ner of last month’s Grade 3, $500,000 South­west Stakes, is also part of the Rebel lineup and will break from post 14. The first four fin­ish­ers Satur­day will earn el­i­gi­bil­ity points for the Ken­tucky Derby on a slid­ing scale of 50-20-10-5.

The com­plete field for the Rebel from the rail, with rid­ers, is Cre­ator, Ri­cardo San­tana Jr.; Ralis, Mario Gu­tier­rez; Cupid, Gar­cia; Dis­creet­ness, Jon Court; Sid­ing Springs, Joe Rocco Jr.; Spikes Shirl, Je­sus Cas­tanon; Mad­tap, Corey Nakatani; Amer­i­can Dubai, Chris Lan­deros; Z Royal, Ra­mon Vazquez; Gray Sky, Florent Ger­oux; Cu­ta­corner, Alex Birzer; Whit­more, Irad Or­tiz Jr.; Cherry Wine, Corey Lanerie; and Sud­den­break­ingnews, Luis Quinonez.

In an equip­ment change, Z Royal will re­move blink­ers on Satur­day.

The Rebel is sched­uled as the 10th race on an 11-race pro­gram at 6:06 p.m. Cen­tral. Fore­casts call for a high of 58 de­grees and a 20 per­cent chance of pre­cip­i­ta­tion, ac­cord­ing to The Weather Chan­nel. Oak­lawn will open its in­field, weather per­mit­ting, ac­cord­ing to track rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jen­nifer Hoyt.

In the Az­eri, Un­ta­pable will launch her 5-year-old sea­son from post 7 in a field of eight fil­lies and mares that in­cludes Kyr­i­aki, Sarah Sis, and Call Pat. Ger­oux has the mount on Un­ta­pable.

Up­start will be­gin his 4-yearold sea­son in the Ra­zor­back as the 120-pound high­weight against nine oth­ers, in­clud­ing Idolo Porteno, the 2014 Horse of the Year in Ar­gentina, and Far Right, Smack Smack, and Shot­gun Kow­boy. Up­start will break from post 8 un­der Joe Bravo.

Santa Anita: Santa Mar­garita

AR­CA­DIA, Calif. – The de­sire to get a Grade 1 win with Pen­with caused trainer Kiaran Mclaugh­lin and owner Godol­phin Rac­ing to ship the mare from Florida early this week to take on lo­cal stars Tara’s Tango and Taris in the Grade 1, $500,000 Santa Mar­garita on Satur­day at Santa Anita.

Pen­with, 5, has won her last two starts, most re­cently the Grade 2 Royal Delta at Gulf­stream on Feb. 13, which marked her first win in a graded stakes. A Grade 1 vic­tory ob­vi­ously would be sig­nif­i­cant for the resid­ual value of a mare by Bernar­dini out of the mul­ti­ple Grade 1-win­ning mare Com­po­sure, who was se­cond in the 2002 Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies.

Mike Smith has the mount on Pen­with in the Santa Mar­garita, the cham­pi­onship race of the meet for older fe­males.

Tara’s Tango and Taris won the im­por­tant lo­cal preps for the Santa Mar­garita, with Tara’s Tango cap­tur­ing the Grade 2 Santa Maria on Feb. 13 and Taris tak­ing the Grade 2 La Canada on Jan. 16. Both of those races are at 1 1/16 miles. The Santa Mar­garita is at 1 1/8 miles.

Martin Gar­cia rode Tara’s Tango in the Santa Maria but is com­mit­ted to go to Oak­lawn Park on Satur­day to ride Cupid in the Rebel Stakes, so Rafael Be­jarano has picked up the mount on Tara’s Tango in the Santa Mar­garita.

Also on Satur­day is the $100,000 Ir­ish O’brien, a sprint on the about-6 1/2-fur­long down­hill turf course for older Cal­i­for­nia-bred fe­males. Qiaona and Vel­vet Mesquite, se­cond and third in last year’s Ir­ish O’brien, are ex­pected to top the field. In their most re­cent start, Vel­vet Mesquite de­feated Qiaona by 1 3/4 lengths in the Sun­shine Mil­lions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint on Jan. 30 on the same course.

A field of 10 older fil­lies and mares will hook up in Satur­day’s Grade 2 In­side In­for­ma­tion at Gulf­stream Park, led by Stone­tas­tic, who will try to get back to the Breed­ers’ Cup for a third con­sec­u­tive time later this year.

Stone­tas­tic will face Bar of Gold, En­gag­in­glee, Flut­terby, Tiger Ride, You Bought Her, Dog­wood Trail and the Marty Wolf­son-trained trio of Best Be­hav­ior, Kiss to Re­mem­ber, and Miss Melinda.

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