03/11/2008 12:00AM

Denis of Cork out of Rebel


Denis of Cork, who closed as the 12-1 fourth choice in Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, will bypass the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park on Saturday and start next in either the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct or the Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne, said his trainer, David Carroll. Both races will be run April 5 at 1 1/8 miles.

The change in direction was finalized Tuesday morning after days of discussion among the horse's connections. Denis of Cork, who is undefeated in three starts, races for William K. Warren Jr. and his wife, Suzanne. He is based at Fair Grounds.

"We're going to run one time before the [Kentucky] Derby," Carroll said. "He's a big, light-framed horse, and we feel he's doing better with spacing [between his races].

"Lots of discussion has gone into it, and we feel very comfortable with that decision. Now, our focus switches to his next race."

Denis of Cork won his debut in a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24. He did not run back until Jan. 19, and won a first-level allowance at Fair Grounds. From there, Denis of Cork made his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn on Feb. 18. He won by 2 1/4 lengths and earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 96.

His defection from the Rebel makes Z Fortune, the runner-up to Pyro in the Grade 3 Risen Star, the probable favorite. Others expected to start include Anak Nakal, Sierra Sunset, Sacred Journey, Stone Bird, He's Eze, and Isabull.