'TDN Rising Star' Nadal (Blame) made it a perfect three-for-three digging down gamely to deliver as the 4-5 favorite in wire-to-wire fashion in Saturday's $1-million GII Rebel S. at Oaklawn Park.
Removing blinkers for this first two-turn test, the rail-drawn bay was hustled to the front by Joel Rosario and was immediately hounded by unbeaten Louisiana-bred No Parole (Violence) and the returning GI American Pharoah S. runner-up American Theorem (American Pharoah) rounding the clubhouse turn.
No Parole backed off, but the two California invaders continued to throw down through sharp fractions of :22.89 and :46 over the sloppy, sealed going. Nadal began to shake clear approaching the quarter pole, but appeared to be in deep water once 80-1 bomb Excession (Union Rags), eighth at 43-1 in the GII Risen Star S. last time, angled off the rail under a full head of steam in the stretch.
Nadal just kept on finding down the lane, however, and gamely held that rival safe by 3/4 of a length. It was another seven lengths back to comebacking GI Runhappy Hopeful S. winner Basin (Liam's Map) in third.
“We were hoping for that outcome,” Hall of Famer Bob Baffert said after saddling a record seventh Rebel winner. “We knew he was a good horse, but until they go two turns… and then the way it set up, the speed duel and all. Pretty impressive when they can just keep going like that. Only the really good ones can do that. I was just fortunate that you guys even ran the race, right now with the way things are. Crazy.”
Nadal secured 50 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility with the victory.
Regarding future plans, Baffert added, “It's a little early, but we'll get him back here and we'll look at all of them. One of them will be there [GI Arkansas Derby Apr. 11].”
The $65,000 KEESEP yearling turned $700,000 FTFMAR juvenile made two previous starts sprinting at Santa Anita, posting a flashy debut win with a gaudy 98 Beyer Speed Figure Jan. 19, then dueling his way free to add the seven-furlong GII San Vicente S. on short notice Feb. 9. Nadal is campaigned in partnership by George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman and Mark Mathiesen.
Bolton said, “When he turned for home and was a length or two ahead, I thought, 'You know what? He may be special. This may be a special horse and he may have the ability to go fast and then go faster.' And that's rare in a horse, to go in a Grade II, which I considered today a Grade I because it's a million dollar race in front of the Kentucky Derby. When the pressure hit, he stood and he took it and he accelerated.”
The champion older male of 2010, Blame is responsible for 16 graded winners and 29 black-type winners in his six crops to race. It's hard to imagine many of them have deeper female families behind them than Nadal, whose granddam is a full-sister to 1991 champion 2-year-old filly Pleasant Stage (Pleasant Colony) and two other graded stakes winners. A number of other Grade I performers are littered throughout the family. While Nadal's dam, Ascending Angel, did not win and only produced two foals before her death the same year Nadal was born, she is by Pulpit, whose record as a broodmare sire already counts 70 stakes winners.
Saturday, Oaklawn Park
REBEL S.-GII, $1,000,000, Oaklawn, 3-14, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:44.97, sy.
1–NADAL, 117, c, 3, by Blame
1st Dam: Ascending Angel, by Pulpit
2nd Dam: Solar Colony, by Pleasant Colony
3rd Dam: Meteor Stage, by Stage Door Johnny
'TDN Rising Star'. ($65,000 Ylg '18 KEESEP; $700,000 2yo '19
FTFMAR). O-George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman &
Mark Mathiesen; B-Sierra Farm (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-Joel
Rosario. $600,000. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0, $753,000. Click
for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick Rating:
2–Excession, 117, c, 3, Union Rags–Draw It, by Tapit. ($150,000
Ylg '18 KEESEP). O-Calumet Farm; B-Randal Family Trust, R
David & Marylyn A Randal Trustees (KY); T-Steven M.
3–Basin, 117, c, 3, Liam's Map–Appenzell, by Johannesburg.
($150,000 Ylg '18 KEESEP). O-Jackpot Farm; B-Cottonwood
Stables, LLC (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $100,000.
Margins: 3/4, 7, HD. Odds: 0.90, 82.60, 4.80.
Also Ran: Three Technique, Coach Bahe, Silver Prospector, American Theorem, No Parole.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.