G2 Rebel a Possibility for Grade 1 Winner Timberlake

February 3, 2024

Timberlake after capturing the Champagne (G1) Oct. 7 at Aqueduct (Walter Wlodarczyk)

By Robert Yates – Oaklawn Park

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— The $1.25 million G2 Rebel Stakes Feb. 24 at Oaklawn is among the races under consideration for Grade 1 winner Timberlake’s 3-year-old debut, trainer Brad Cox said Wednesday morning.

The 1 1/16-mile Rebel is Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race, a four-race series that culminates with the $1.5 million G1-Arkansas Derby March 30.

“He’s pointing for it,” Cox said. “We’ve got to see how our works go over the next several weeks, but he’s doing well. Hopefully, we can get him there.”

Timberlake, a son of super sire Into Mischief who races for Siena Farm and WinStar Farm, hasn’t started since finishing fourth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at 1 1/16 miles Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. Timberlake won the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (G1) at 1 mile Oct. 7 at Aqueduct in his previous start, beating, among others, Fierceness, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to secure an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 2-year-old male.

Based at the Fair Grounds, Timberlake returned to the work tab Jan. 20, covering 3 furlongs in :36.20. He breezed a half-mile in :49.20 Jan. 28 and another half-mile in :48.60 Saturday morning. Cox said the Rebel’s distance is appealing for Timberlake, who has never won around two turns.

“The other race in play for him would probably be the Gotham at Aqueduct,” Cox said. “He did win up in New York. He won the Champagne there at Aqueduct, so that could be something that is in play as well. We’ll see how he performs over the next few weeks breezing.”

Like the Champagne, the $300,000 G2 Gotham Stakes March 2 is a one-turn mile. Nominations to the two-turn Rebel close Feb. 10. The race has a record purse in 2024 after previously being worth $1 million.

Cox won Oaklawn’s first Kentucky Derby points race this year ($300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1) with Catching Freedom. Cox is pointing Catching Freedom to the nine-furlong $400,000 G2-Risen Star Stakes Feb. 17 at the Fair Grounds. The hope, Cox said, is to then use the $1.5 million G1-Arkansas Derby as Catching Freedom’s final Kentucky Derby prep.

Cox has won the Arkansas Derby the last two years. No trainer has won Oaklawn’s Arkansas Derby three consecutive years.

“For a unique and real perspective on horse racing, I read Jonathan Stettin’s column Past the Wire.” Bob Baffert, Multiple Triple Crown winner, Eclipse Award winner, Hall of Fame Champion Trainer

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