Record-Setting Rebel Day

Oaklawn Park | Coady

According to figures released by officials at Oaklawn Park Saturday night following the running of a $2.845-million program anchored by $750,000 divisions of the GII Rebel S., total combined handle on the local product was $16,221,639, breaking the previous record of $16,159,77 established on Arkansas Derby day 2018.

According to the track, attendance for the Rebel card has increased every year since a crowd estimated at around 30,000 watched future Triple Crown hero American Pharoah romp home by 6 1/4 lengths in 2015. Attendance climbed to 35,000 in 2016, was up to 36,000 in 2017 and roughly 37,500 in 2018. Total handle was $8,443,176 in 2015, $9,124,972 in 2016, $10,752,313 in 2017 and $10,771,984 last year to set records for March and a non-Arkansas Derby Day.

Mark Lamberth of Batesville, AR, is an owner and vice chair of the Arkansas Racing Commission, told the Oaklawn notes team that the Saturday scenes were reminiscent of when Zenyatta (Street Cry {Ire}) invaded from California for the GI Apple Blossom Invitational in 2010. Zenyatta raced away to defeat Brownie Points (Forest Wildcat) by over four lengths in her first start over a conventional dirt track.

“It was one of those magical days,” Lamberth said Sunday morning. “When Zenyatta pranced, I mean the crowd just swooned and, of course, she won easy. I thought yesterday was like that, from top to bottom. [On Saturday], we had $100,000 maiden special weights, great horses and the crowd was really into it. It was a festive atmosphere. I just think it was the best day I've had at Oaklawn in a long time.”

The Rebel was the final local prep for the GI Arkansas Derby Apr. 13, typically closing day in Hot Springs, but the Oaklawn meeting extends into early May for the first time in 2019.


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