Dash Attack completed major preparations for the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds with a 5-furlong bullet workout over a fast track Saturday morning for trainer Kenny McPeek.
Breezing in company just after the surface renovation break under exercise rider Eduardo Ruvalcaba, Dash Attack went in 1:00.20 following splits of :23.40 for the opening quarter-mile and :35.80 for 3 furlongs. The 5-furlong time equaled the fastest of 52 recorded at the distance. Clockers caught Dash Attack galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:13.60.
“The colt worked great,” said assistant trainer Ray Bryner, who oversees McPeek’s Oaklawn division.
Post positions for the Rebel and $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies will be drawn Monday. The 1 1/16-mile races both offer 85 points (50-20-10-5) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, respectively.
The Oaklawn racing department listed six probables for the Rebel late Saturday morning – Barber Road for trainer John Ortiz, Ben Diesel (Dallas Stewart), Chasing Time (Steve Asmussen), Dash Attack, Ethereal Road (D. Wayne Lukas) and Rich Strike (Eric Reed) – with several other horses under consideration, including one for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert has won the Rebel a record eight times, including the last two runnings with Nadal in 2020 and Concert Tour last year.
The Rebel is Oaklawn’s third of four Kentucky Derby points races. Baffert won the second, the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Jan. 29, with unbeaten Newgrange, who wasn’t nominated to the Rebel. Dash Attack is looking to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the Southwest, which marked his first loss in three career starts. Exiting a victory in the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1 – Oaklawn’s first Kentucky Derby points race – Dash Attack was beaten 7 ¾ lengths in the Southwest. The 1 1/16-mile Southwest was Dash Attack’s first start on a fast track.
“There were a couple of variables,” Dash Attack’s regular rider, David Cohen, said following Saturday morning’s work. “The track was pretty cuppy and deep and I think that really affected him. But I thought he did run a good race. He was against tougher company, obviously. He made a good move and he was up there, up until the sixteenth pole, just that last 50 yards or whatever. But I think the cuppiness and the deepness of the track seemed to get to him. His first two races, it was a much tighter track. Even though it was a wet track, it was still a tighter track. I think that’s something he wasn’t used to.”
Cohen said Dash Attack’s performance in the Southwest also may have been impacted by winter weather, which altered his training schedule. McPeek said following the race that he believed the chestnut son of Munnings was “short” for the race. Saturday’s work followed a 5-furlong bullet move in company (:59.80) Feb. 12.
“I know Kenny has tweaked some things with him, got a little more aggressive in the morning with him,” Cohen said. “His last two workouts have been great. He worked a strong :59 and change last week. Today, we did another minute workout. He seemed to really come out of that last workout really well today.”
Cohen has a unique perspective since he’s ridden Dash Attack in all three career starts and was aboard his workmates – both for trainer Robertino Diodoro – Feb. 12 and Saturday. Cohen is Diodoro’s longtime go-to rider.
Dash Attack breezed Feb. 12 with Fort Peck, a 7-year-old gelding who was runner-up to the scintillating Life is Good in the $300,000 Kelso Handicap (G2) Sept. 25 at Belmont Park. Fort Peck was entered Saturday’s eighth race, a 1 1/8-mile allowance for older horses. Dash Attack breezed Saturday morning with Skate to Heaven, a 3-year-old maiden who debuted last summer at Saratoga.
“Sometimes, I can tell the trainer, let’s say they’re not here and I work one in company, I can pretty much tell them just as much about the one I’m on as the one I’m looking at,” Cohen said. “You’re seeing it and you’re seeing how they’re traveling, as opposed to the feeling. You know how well your horse is doing it. So, you really have kind of maybe a little more insight because you’re able to judge two horses and have pretty good vision of what’s going on with them.”
In addition to Dash Attack, the Rebel will bring back Barber Road, runner-up in the Smarty Jones and Southwest, and Southwest third Ben Diesel. Chasing Time was a 7 ¾-length first-level allowance winner at 1 mile Jan. 14. Favored in all five career starts, the Rebel will be his stakes debut. Ethereal Road also will be making his stakes debut following an eye-catching four-length maiden special weights victory at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 29.
The Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles April 2.
Honeybee probables, according to the Oaklawn racing department late Saturday morning, were Free Like a Girl for trainer Carl Deville, Optionality (Asmussen), Secret Oath (Lukas), Torte (Mike Lauer) and Yuugiri (Rodolphe Brisset).
Secret Oath has been maybe the most impressive horse at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting, winning her two starts by a combined 15 ½ lengths. Secret Oath won the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 29 – Oaklawn’s first Kentucky Oaks points race – by 7 ¼ lengths over Optionality. Yuugiri hasn’t started since a runner-up finish in the $400,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs. Secret Oath was fifth in the Golden Rod. The Honeybee is Oaklawn’s second Kentucky Oaks points race.
The Honeybee is the final major local prep for the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles April 2.
Ramon Vazquez rode four winners Friday, taking the second race aboard Win With Pride ($9.20) for trainer Karl Broberg, fourth race aboard favored Rubiginous ($2.60) for trainer Robertino Diodoro, sixth race aboard Midnight Karma ($19.60) for trainer John Henry Prather of Hot Springs and the ninth race aboard Venture Forth ($28.60) for trainer Federico Villafranco. … Kavod, winner of the $150,000 Advent Stakes for 2-year-old sprinters Dec. 3, worked a half-mile in :49.60 Saturday morning for trainer Chris Hartman. The track was fast. … Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen recorded his meet-high 25 victory in Friday’s third race with favored Beeasy ($4). It was Asmussen’s 780th career Oaklawn, victory No. 2 all time. …. Leading owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs recorded his meet-high eighth victory in Friday’s first race with Gramercy Park ($18). Ricardo Santana Jr. rode the winner for trainer John Ortiz.
Oaklawn Park Press Release
Photo: Dash Attack (Coady Photo)