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Submitted by John Conte on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 6:12 PM

Solomini Favored Over 10 In Rebel…Hazit And Ride A Comet Installed As Co-Morning Line 5-1 Favorites In Jeff Ruby At Turfway

Mid-West Circuit bettors in particular and national simulcast bettors will bettors in general should be licking their chops as they peruse the 23 total 3-year olds entered for the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the Jeff Ruby Stakes (nee the Spiral Stakes) at Turfway Park this Saturday.


It is likely that morning line favorite Solomini will command the most attention from bettors as he faces 10 rivals in the Grade II Rebel Stakes ($900,000), to be run at a mile and a sixteenth over the dirt oval in Hot Springs.


At Turfway Park the Grade III Jeff Ruby Stakes has drawn a full field of 12 to run over the synthetic surface at a mile and an eight. It is the first 9 furlong Kentucky Derby Prep of the 2018 season.


Trainer Bob Baffert, as usual is sorting through multiple Kentucky Derby possibilities in 2018 and with the likes of McKinzie and Justify coming off races last week, the conditioner has shipped Solomini to Oaklawn to run in the Rebel. The last 8 times Baffert has shipped to this Derby Prep he has claimed 6 winners.


A look at Solomini’s resume is a strong indicator that all things going as planned there is a good chance that the Curlin colt will make it 7 of 9.


Solomini will be making his 2018 debut after a 4 races juvenile campaign in which he broke his maiden in his debut then ran second in both the Grade 1 Front Runner Stakes and Grade 1 BC Juvenile before crossing under the wire first in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity only to be disqualified to third for interference in the stretch.


The colt makes his debut off of 4 straight bullet drills at Santa Anita, working from 5 to 7 furlongs since February 17. Regular pilot Flavian Prat will make the trip.


However, they still have to run the race and another trainer who is sorting through a trio of possibilities is Steve Asmussen and he will saddle a trio of entrants in the Rebel.


Combatant, has shown consistency with minor second place finishes in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park plus the Smarty Jones, and Southwest (G3) over this oval will hope that a strong front end battle will enhance his chances to utilize his late kick.


Asmussen will also saddle recent allowance winner Title Ready, who should contribute to the early pace early foot and another late runner in Zing Zang, who had no action in the Southwest mud but has been likened to Asmussen’s 2016 Arkansas Derby (G1) and Belmont S. (G1) winner Creator.


Curlin’s Honor, Magnum Moon, and Higher Power could be any kind as each enters off an impressive allowance win and will make their Graded Stakes debut.


Curlin’s Honor will be making just his third career start and first beyond 6 furlongs. He is definitely bred for the trip but it remains to be seen if the Mark Casse charge is playing catch up too late.


Magnum Moon is a son of Malibu Moon and is also two-for-two after a two turn allowance win at Tampa Bay in his last. Like Baffert and Asmussen, trainer Todd Pletcher has multiple Derby possibilities and sends the colt here as he attempts to keep his leading 3-year olds separated. The colt’s regular rider Luis Saez makes the trip from Gulfstream.


Donnie Von Hemel’s Higher Power might be the best bred of the trio when it comes to distance expectations but the son of Medaglia D’oro’s last out allowance win at one mile over this oval didn’t exactly stop the timer’s clock. Nonetheless his bloodlines hold out high possibilities.


Another who exits the Southwest Stakes is Sporting Chance, the Wayne Lukas trained son of Tiznow, who ended his juvenile campaign with a win in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga and was an erratic stretch run third in the mud in his 2018 debut in the Southwest. The colt has turned in a trio of solid drills since his race and Lukas has drawn the services of John Velazquz.


Pryor, High North and Bode’s Maker, each of whom is eligible for non-winners of two races complete the field.


This is the final local prep for the seminal Grade 1 Arkansas derby to be run on closing day of the meet in mid-April.


Whether or not the Rebel produces the likes of American Pharoah (who prepped in the Rebel and Arkansas Derby in 2015) remains to be seen, and other than Lookin At Lee’s surprising second in last year’s Kentucky Derby after a 6th in the Rebel, the race has produced little in the last 12 years.


That being said, the contentious field behind projected favorite Solomini should make for plenty of value in the exotics.


(Check Back Friday Afternoon As We Complete This Report With A Look At Saturday’s Other Derby Prep, The Jeff Ruby Stakes At Turfway Park.)

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