All eyes on the final Kentucky Derby prep race

The $1,000,000 Rebel Stakes will take place on Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

It's the final Kentucky Derby prep race that awards points on a 50-20-10- scale, with the winner all but clinching an invitation to the Triple Crown opener on May 1.

Eight horses are in the field, including five Kentucky Derby qualifying contenders, four of which have already picked up at least four points. Interestingly, the early favorite at 7/5, Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour, is making his Derby Prep debut.

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He'll break from the seventh post position for the 6:15 p.m. EST race, the 11th on the 12-race Oaklawn card.

It's not unusual for a Baffert trainee to get a late start to their career, and Concert Tour is no exception as he didn't run a race as a 2-year-old.

US Trainer Bob Baffert
US Trainer Bob Baffert

The colt makes the trip east after winning two races at Santa Anita Park, the last one in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes on February 6. The step up in distance to 1 1/16 miles could be an issue down the stretch against a quality field.

Caddo River won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn and the 10 points that went with it on January 22. The Brad Cox-trained colt ran his first four races at four different tracks, finally staying put for the Rebel.

Caddo River was a 3/5 favorite in the Smarty Jones and didn't disappoint by running away from runner-up Cowan by over 10 lengths. He'll start on the rail in post position one on Saturday.

It's been 3½ months since Keepmeinmind's win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 28. It was the third consecutive Derby prep race where the Robertino Diodoro product scored qualifying points.

Long layoffs could be a factor

With 18 points, Keepmeinmind has an opportunity to get back to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby with a couple of strong performances, even if they don't result in wins. He was recently scratched from the Risen Star Stakes on February 13 and the Southwest on February 27.

The effects of the long layoff could impact his performance as he takes off from the sixth post position at 6/1.

Trainer Steven Asmussen has a pair of horses running in the Rebel Stakes, but Super Stock is the stronger entry. He has a pair of third-place finishes in Derby prep races, including the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity where Keepmeinmind beat him by 1½ lengths.

The 8/1 shot in early odds has yet to show that he can run with the top Kentucky Derby contenders, but Asmussen's outstanding record at Oaklawn can't be underestimated. Super Stock will be starting on the outside from position eight, which could be advantageous in staying out of traffic early in the race.

Big opportunity for Keepmeinmind
Big opportunity for Keepmeinmind

When mentioning layoffs, there isn't one much longer than that experienced by Get Her Number, who last raced in the American Pharoah Stakes on September 26. The 1¾-length win was over an impressive field that included Rombauer, Spielberg and Waspirant.

The reason for the layoff has not been disclosed, but Get Her Number at 12/1 will need to be taken seriously, considering he's clearly shown the ability to handle top competition.

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