Malagacy strikes the lead and never looks back. American Act disappoints and leaves Bob Baffert searching for answers.

The $900,000 Grade 2 – Rebel Stakes had all the qualities of a great Kentucky Derby prep race. It had horses shipping in from all over the country, taking on some known quantities while adding a number of unknown components to the equation.  Bob Baffert was looking to bounce back from last weekend’s heartbreak resulting from the front left leg fracture sustained by Derby front-runner MASTERY.  Many people had his Rebel entrant, AMERICAN ANTHEM at the top of their Derby list.  After Gormley came up empty in the Tampa Bay Derby, AMERICAN ANTHEM should have been appropriately downgraded among Derby hopefuls just for the simple fact they are both unknowns. GORMLEY and AMERICAN ANTHEM may have finished heads apart in the SHAM, and their next starts should be taken as individual performances, but also need to be looked at for similarities.

Todd Pletcher had just won the Grade 3 – Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park last month, yesterday he entered a different horse with an extremely similar track record. MALAGACY just like Southwest winner ONE LINER was undefeated in two starts, both one turn, and neither in stakes company. MALAGACY also was shipping in from Pletcher’s Winter/Spring home track Gulfstream Park. MALAGACY had won his previous two starts by a combined 22+ lengths. It was Pletcher and Baffert, their horses were the only two taking money as leading up to the race, at “5 Minutes To Post” both horses were co-favorites at 2-1. As post time approached, the money shaded AMERICAN ANTHEM’S direction. His second place finish in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park and the Mike Smith factor played a big role into his price of 1.60 to 1. MALAGACY drifted up to nearly 7/2 but ended up going off at 3.30 to 1.

If you go back and read through my race preview of the Rebel Stakes, I surprisingly had things correctly mapped out for just about every horse.

Here is a breakdown of each horses trip for “TRIP HANDICAPPERS”



– Broke well from the gate

– Saved ground through the first turn

– Tracked pace in the second flight on the rail about 3 1/2 lengths off the lead w/ 5f left

– When leader hit 3/4p began to retreat, moved out into 2-3path while in last place


My chart callers comment: Broke well, saved ground, no response



– Broke out slightly

– Set the pace on the rail to 1/4p

– Weakened past the 3/16p

SHORT COMMENT: Broke out, pace, weakened



– Shuffled back early

– Far back through the 1/2p

– Prolonged drive

– Angled to rail, up for place

SHORT COMMENT: shuffled,angld in,up for 2nd



– Forwardly placed in first flight

– inside position

– saved ground far turn

– 2path to the 3/16


SHORT COMMENT: fwd plcd ins,2path 3/16,outnodded



– settled back of traffic

– tracked in second flight

– started advancing past 3/8p

– split rivals, every chance

– outfinished final furlong

SHORT COMMENT: tracked 2nd flight, adv 4w 1/4p, outfinished



– Tracked pace in the 2path early

– headed pace-setter 1/4p

– Took command 3/16

– Edged clear, held sway

SHORT COMMENT: tracked pace, took command3/16,edged clear



– Caught wide first turn

– Moved up 4deep along backstretch

– Faltered

SHORT COMMENT: Wide early, 4deep backstr,faltered



– Took back inside

– settled well back on rail

– waited for room

– angled out for clear run, flattened

SHORT COMMENT: far back early, waited, lacked response



– Far back early

– Slight steady far turn

– No factor late

SHORT COMMENT: far back, no factor late


#10 – ROYAL MO

– pressed pace 3 wide

– failed to respond 1/4p

– weakened

SHORT COMMENT: Pressed 3w, failed to respond1/4p



– Trailed early

– Gained position far turn

– traffic trouble

– angled out, empty

SHORT COMMENT: Trailed, gained ground, traffic,empty




#6 MALAGACY – Has all but qualified for the Kentucky Derby and according to reports, Todd Pletcher will be aiming towards the Arkansas Derby with Malagacy. It should be a spot to solidify his prospect as a Derby threat, he will face many similar faces in that race, and will get to extend his legs. The goal for the race should be to get him to calm down prior to the race. He was a bit washy and was able to run through it. If he can settle down and continue to run his race, he will be a serious threat in Louisville.


#4 PETROV – This little guy continues to run his race. He looked a bit tired in the final furlong in the Rebel Stakes, I would have to think he will be pointed towards the Arkansas Derby. With a 3rd/4th place finish he will qualify for the Derby. I just don’t think he is fast enough to win anything of importance. He didn’t have to do the chasing yesterday and ran his worst race during the Derby prep season.


#3 SONNETEER – I didn’t really know what to make of this MAIDEN. That’s right, maiden. I knew Desormeaux was sending him in for a reason. And what did he do, he hit board again and earned himself 20 Derby qualification points. Even so, he will have to improve greatly to earn any respect among handicappers.


#11 – LOOKIN AT LEE – For all intensive purposes I want to take this horse and drop him off this prospect list completely. He always finds excuses. He gets speedy figures to run into and still can’t find a way to hit the board.


#5 – UNTRAPPED – He had every chance to go get Malagacy and didn’t do it. He did earn 10 Derby points so he will be back. I just don’t know what to make of this horse. He was making up ground into the lane and then just flattened out. Did Malagacy speed up or did Untrapped falter?


#7 – AMERICAN ACT – His Derby season should end after that dreadful performance, but Baffert will keep throwing punches. He lost the race in the first half mile, so he did have excuses.


#10 – ROYAL MO – He didn’t have any excuses. Was right in the mix and faded, his Derby season has ended.


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