Baffert has horse to beat in Rebel
Updated: March 16, 2012, 12:44 PM ETBy Mary Rampellini | Daily Racing Form
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Beat Bob Baffert. That's been the story of the Rebel the last two years, and the Oaklawn Park Grade 2 reads much the same on Saturday. Baffert has favored Secret Circle in the Rebel, which he won last year with The Factor and in 2010 with Lookin At Lucky. The 1 1/16-mile Rebel, boosted to $500,000 this year after being worth $300,000, is a prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14. It's also one of two stakes on the card, with the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri a springboard to the meet's other Grade 1, the $500,000 Apple Blossom on April 13. The Rebel card traditionally has been the second-highest attended of the meet behind Arkansas Derby Day, with a crowd last year of 34,698. Officials said the infield would be opened Saturday, depending on the weather, and as of Thursday forecasters were calling for isolated thunderstorms and a high of 80 degrees. Secret Circle, who has been the favorite in all five of his starts, is again the one to beat. He has won four times, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint and the second and faster division of the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest last month at Oaklawn. Scatman, who finished a half-length behind Secret Circle in the Southwest, is back for a rematch Saturday, and the Rebel field of 13 also includes Sabercat, who will be making his first start since winning the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot in November. Secret Circle tracked Scatman into the stretch of the Southwest, then bellied down to get past his determined rival in the one-mile race that ended at the sixteenth pole. He covered the distance in 1:37, and for the effort earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 102. The number is the best career Beyer in the field Saturday and tied for third-highest by a 3-year-old in North America this year. "He bounced out of his race really well," said Baffert, who trains Secret Circle for the partnership of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. "I think he's kind of a horse that's just starting to wake up a little bit. He's done everything on just natural talent. He's kind of the kid who's real smart, didn't do his homework, just gets through on natural talent." The Rebel will be Secret Circle's first start beyond a mile.
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