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Timberlake Beatable Favorite Off Layoff In Rebel Stakes

It’s a little more than two months away from making your Kentucky Derby betting choices and some of the top colts are beginning to tighten the screws.

Promising Timberlake, who won the Champagne Stakes at Belmont and finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year, begins his Derby trail Saturday in the $1.25 million Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

Timberlake Beatable Favorite Off Layoff In Rebel Stakes
Timberlake Beatable Favorite Off Layoff In Rebel Stakes

The son of Into Mischief has not run since the Juvenile on Nov. 3 and comes in as the big favorite in the horse racing odds at 6-5, breaking from the 7 post. Christian Torres rides Timberlake, who could be part of a hot pace.

Meanwhile, highly regarded Japanese colt Forever Young attempts to start his career 4-for-4 in the Saudi Derby on Saturday as a prep for the UAE Derby next month.

Some top Derby contenders will be in action next Saturday in key preps and Sierra Leone joined the conversation last Saturday with his impressive stretch run to win the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.


Plenty of Speed In Rebel Stakes

Speed has been important in the Rebel Stakes as 9 of the last 10 winners were within two lengths of the lead through the first half mile – five on the lead.

The question is, could there be too much speed in this one that will help closers become more competitive? There could be as many as seven horses that want to be up near the lead on the backstretch, including No. 13 Time for Truth for trainer Ron Moquett.

“Timberlake is a deserving favorite because he’s the only Grade 1 winner in the field,” Moquett told reporters. “We just want a good showing from our horse and to see if there’s a Derby thing in his future.”

Trainer Brad Cox said Timberlake has been pointing toward this race and is “doing well” if you bet online. The big issue is whether the colt will be pulled into the speed battle or will Torres sit comfortably behind the frontrunners.

Aside from Moquett’s horse, Carbone (1) could rebound after a poor performance on the muddy track in the Southwest while Common Defense (3) might close well and be worth an addition to your horse racing betting at big odds.

Dimatic (6), one of three from trainer Steve Asmussen, is a wild card if he improves while Just Steel (11) was second in the Southwest and Woodcourt (12) has won his last two.


Sierra Leone Arrives on Derby Scene

Chad Brown-trained Sierra Leone rolled down the stretch to win the Grade 2 Risen Star last Saturday and suddenly stamped himself as a contender for the Derby.

The son of Gun Runner is now tied with Track Phantom, who he beat by a half-length Saturday, in first place with 55 Derby points.

“Given the track conditions and slow pace and that he hasn’t run since the Remsen (Dec. 2), I thought he showed a lot to run down a pretty good horse who was in form and didn’t have to ship,” Brown told reporters. “I wasn’t sure if he’d reel him in. This proved a lot to me.”

Brown said that the current plan is for Sierra Leone to run in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 6.


Forever Young Aims To Stay Unbeaten

Emerging Japanese star Forever Young hopes to continue his progress toward a possible Derby spot when he takes on as many as 11 horses in the $1.5 million Saudi Derby on Saturday at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.

The grandson of Congrats has won his first three races and will face Book’em Danno, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., and Mashhur, with John Velasquez aboard, among others in the 1-mile race. The race does not earn Derby points, but is a prep for the UAE Derby in Dubai, which does.

“If he can run well in Saudi and then in Dubai, which qualifies him for the Kentucky Derby, then yes, I would like to take him to America to compete in the Triple Crown races,” Forever Young trainer Yashito Yahagi told DRF.com.


Stronghold Wins, Big Slate Next Week

Stronghold won the Sunland Derby last Sunday to give him a chance to make the field on the first Saturday in May with 25 points.

Jockey Antonio Fresu said the son of Ghostzapper is still maturing and will be better.

There are four Derby preps scheduled for March 2. Talented Dornoch, the winner of the Remsen at Aqueduct in December, leads the field in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream to headline the day at the racebook.

The Gotham at Aqueduct is also slated for Saturday, along with the San Felipe at Santa Anita and the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.


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