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Pinball Wizard

Posted by on 3/17/2014 8:56:11 PM

‘Ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball’ and the Rebel Stakes Saturday at Oaklawn was nothing short of a contested pinball machine with horses bouncing off each other down the lane.

For online sports betting site players, the eventual outcome could have gone either way as there was repeated contact and a number of horses could have been at fault.

When the stewards straightened it all out, Hoppertunity came from 6 lengths back at the top of the lane to prevail by a half-length and they had to survive an inquiry.

Strong Mandate made the lead in the 8 and a half furlong Grade 2 $600,000 contest and he went :24.09 and :47.97 early. After three quarters of a mile, he still had the lead by a scant head over Ride On Curlin, who was a length in front of Hoppertunity. That runner continued to stalk while wide when he came in and tightened his rivals before just holding it together. His final time was 1:43.90.

The 2-1 favorite Tapiture held on to complete the exacta with Ride On Curlin third and the pacesetter Strong Mandate 4th.

The way it all went down was that Tapiture tried to bull his way out to get around a tiring Strong Mandate. Ride On Curlin was getting out to and this cause a chain reaction.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Hoppertunity is still immature but what was impressive about his performance is that he showed fight and did not back down.

You can’t teach that to a horse, it’s an inherent trait and a good one to have because things will only getting tougher from here on in.

Baffert has now won 4 of the last 5 Rebel Stakes and it has to be a good feeling to have a game improving horse at this time of the year.

Hoppertunity was a slow learner. He had a valid excuse in his debut when off slowly. Stretched out to a mile in his second start, this son of Any Given Saturday made the lead at the top of the lane and drew off to win by 3 lengths with a 92 Beyer.

The horse that ran second that day, returned to again run second beaten a length and a quarter earning a 77 Beyer in the process. He was flattered when the winner of his debut Bayern, also trained by Baffert, beat entry-level allowance rivals by 15 lengths with a 98 Beyer.

Bayern would have been highly regarded in the California Chrome’s San Felipe but scratched from that race was a foot bruise.

Only beaten a length and a half for third in the Risen Star and Hoppertunity didn’t seem intimidated by the big field of 14.

The blood is there for this runner to thrive. This colt has a right to grow into his skin as kin Executiveprivilege won multiple Grade 1s and banked nearly a million.

Baffert has options for Hoppertunity next start but the Santa Anita Derby is not out of question.

It’s not easy to gauge Hoppertunity final time as the race was run on a wet/fast strip, not the ideal condition. Baffert’s Lookin at Lucky won this race in 1:43.06 and the fastest Baffert winner was The Factor in 1:42.19. Last year Will Take Charge was clocked in 1:45.18 and earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

Hoppertunity recorded a 100 Beyer Saturday.

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