Omaha Beach, Long Range Toddy win Rebel races; Baffert favorites finish second

Omaha Beach held off a late charge by 2-year-old champion Game Winner to win Division Two of Saturday’s $750,000, Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

Trained by Richard Mandella and ridden by Mike Smith, Omaha Beach covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.42 and paid $10.80 to win.

Owned by Fox Hill Farms, Omaha Beach earned 37.5 points in the Kentucky Derby points races and virtually assured himself a spot in the May 4 Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.

Game Winner, the 1-2 favorite, was undefeated entering the race after capturing last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill. The Bob Baffert trainee was making his 3-year-old debut.

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Market King, who set fractions of 23.54 seconds for the quarter-mile and 47.29 seconds for the half-mile, faded to third. Gunmetal Gray was fourth.

A son of War Front, Omaha Beach was making his stakes debut after breaking his maiden at Santa Anita Park last month. He improved to 2-3-1 in six career starts.

In the Division One Rebel race, Long Range Toddy caught heavy favorite Improbable at the wire to win.

Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Jon Court, Long Range Toddy covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.49 and paid $18.80 to win.

Owned by Willis Horton, Long Range Toddy earned 37.5 points in the Kentucky Derby points race and now has 53.5 total, which should assure him a spot in the Run for the Roses.

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“The horse is doing extremely well,” Asmussen said. “He stepped up. Jon gave him a beautiful trip today, and I love how he earned it late.”

Improbable, the 2-5 favorite, finished second and was followed by Galilean and Extra Hope. Trained by Baffert, Improbable was making his 3-year-old debut after going 3 for 3 last year.

Classy John and Long Range Toddy dueled early, with Classy John setting fractions of 23.77 seconds for the quarter-mile and 47.58 seconds for the half-mile. Improbable took the lead heading for home before getting caught in the final strides.

“They went about their business, and (Long Range Toddy) relaxed down the backstretch,” Asmussen said. “You could tell coming into the stretch he was loaded. He waited until they all lined out, didn’t waste any ground and wheeled him out late like he should and got rewarded for it.”

A son of Take Charge Indy, Long Range Toddy improved to 4-1-1 in seven career starts. He previously was third in the Grade 3 Southwest on Feb. 18 at Oaklawn.

“The horse is extremely kind,” Asmussen said. “Jon worked him the other day, and his comment was that he was push-button.”

The Rebel was run in two division to accommodate California horsemen affected by the recent shutdown of Santa Anita Park and the cancellation of last week’s San Felipe.

Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; jfrakes@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @kyhighs. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jasonf.

Published 7:51 PM EDT Mar 16, 2019