Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert swept the Triple Crown races with American Pharoah last spring, and now has a second major contender for this year’s Run for the Roses after the victory by Cupid in Saturday’s $900,000 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park.
The colt came into the Rebel off a maiden victory on February 7 at Santa Anita and proved he can mix it up with the best of his class with a gate to wire score in the Rebel where he won by 1 ¼ lengths.
It was Baffert’s sixth Rebel win in the last seven runnings.
The victory moved the colt up to fourth in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings, more than enough to secure a starting spot in the gate on the first Saturday of May.
Baffert already has Mor Spirit, who is currently the fourth choice in early Kentucky Derby betting at Sportsbook at 14-1. The colt ran second in the San Felipe (G2) on March 12 in his last start and is pointing toward the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 9 as his final prep for the first jewel of the Triple Crown.
He won the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in his final start as a juvenile and started off 2016 by winning the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita.
The colt is currently seventh in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings with 44.
Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby four times, last year his first since War Emblem in 2002. He also won the race with Real Quiet in 1998 and Silver Charm in 1997.
A pair of undefeated colts lead the way in early Derby wagering at Sportsbook. Mohaymen is the favorite at odds of 7-2. The colt is perfect in five starts, his last victory coming in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 27.
Nyquist is undefeated in six starts including winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in his final start as a juvenile. In his most recent outing he won the San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita on February 15. The colt is the 8-1 second choice in Kentucky Derby betting at Sportsbook.
The two will square off in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on April 2.
Smokey Image has taken betting action at Sportsbook, currently the third choice in Derby wagering at 10-1 despite the colt’s fifth place finish in the San Felipe (G2). That was his first loss after starting his career with six straight wins.
We have two Derby points races on tap on Saturday, the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds and the UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan in Dubai.
Handicapper Michael Dempsey provides his full card analysis for Gulfstream Park daily and selections for all the major Kentucky Derby prep races at turfnsport.com.