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Pete’s Picks: Hoppertunity in Rebel

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 3/14/2014 9:48:58 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Ride On Curlin, Tapiture, Strong Mandate, Hoppertunity, Kobe’s Back

What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Rebel (Grade 2)

Where: Oaklawn Park

When: Saturday, March 15th

The 54th Running of The Rebel at Oaklawn Park on Saturday is loaded with highly-regarded Kentucky Derby prospects from high-profile barns. Tapiture (Asmussen), Strong Mandate (Lukas) and Kobe’s Back (Sadler) were all individual betting interests in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, and Hoppertunity (Baffert) is an exciting recent arrival to the Derby scrum. This race should help us separate the 3YO classic contenders from the pretenders. Let’s take a closer look at the main players below.

#2-Ride On Curlin (12-1) is a very live underdog in The Rebel, and will offer value. He hit 90 or higher on the Beyer scale twice as a juvenile, and checked in a close third behind Havana and Honor Code in the Grade 1 Champagne, so you know this colt has quality. He weakened last out in The Southwest after a wide trip, and should move forward in the third start of his form cycle. He’s definitely worth using in the exotics.

#3-Tapiture (9-5) dominated his rivals in The Southwest, including Strong Mandate (2nd) and the aforementioned Ride On Curlin (3rd). He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 98 in the process, and did it off a 2 ½-month break. He has trained well in the interim, and is expected to improve off that performance. If he does, he’ll be mighty tough to beat. You’ll note he’s picking up three pounds in The Rebel, but won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club with the same 122-lb. impost. The only drawback is the price, which is expected to be in the 7-5 range.

#4-Strong Mandate (2-1) is talented, but a bit headstrong. Trainer Lukas has been trying to get him to relax…time will tell if the colt will learn his lessons. Full Mandate won the Grade 1 Hopeful, but is still seeking his first win going two turns, having a second and a third (in the BC Juvenile) to show for his efforts.

#8-Kobe’s Back (7-2) blasted home in The Grade 2 San Vicente at seven furlongs, winning by more than five widening lengths. You’ll note that jockey Joel Rosario opts to remain aboard Strong Mandate, so Jose Lezcano takes over riding chores. It’s not clear if this colt wants two turns, or is merely a very good closing sprinter. I’m not willing to take 7-2 to find out.

At a juicy price, I am willing to take a shot with the talented, but less experienced #5-Hoppertunity (10-1). He broke his maiden impressively going a mile at Santa Anita, and certainly didn’t disgrace himself in his first out-of-town trip, finishing a closing 4th in the Grade 2 Risen Star after a wide trip in a 14-horse field. His gallop-out after that race was impressive. He’ll be co-lightweight at 115 pounds, gets the services of Mike Smith, and has trained well in the interim. You know trainer Baffert is plenty dangerous in these situations…I’m calling for the upset! I’ll bet on #5-Hoppertunity across the board (Win/Place/Show) at odds of 8-1 or better.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for this weekend. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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