03/18/2017 9:03PM

Malagacy handles first route in Rebel Stakes

Coady Photography
The Todd Pletcher-trained Malagacy, ridden by Javier Castellano, wins the Rebel by two lengths to remain unbeaten.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Malagacy burst onto the Kentucky Derby trail Saturday at Oaklawn, where he remained undefeated while mastering two turns in the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel Stakes. He won by two lengths over 112-1 maiden Sonneteer, while it was a nose back in third to Untrapped.

American Anthem, who was favored while attempting to give trainer Bob Baffert his seventh win in the Rebel, finished 10th and following the race jockey Mike Smith said the horse “slipped badly” leaving the gate and struggled.

Malagacy earned 50 eligibility points for the Kentucky Derby and he could take the next step toward that race on April 15, in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher said. Malagacy won the first two races of his career in overnight sprint races at Gulfstream Park, then tested both stakes rivals and two turns for the first time in the Rebel.

“We were anxious to see how he would stretch out and step up in class,” Pletcher said. “He handled it terrifically."

Malagacy ($8.60) was content to track the pace set by Uncontested, racing about a length off that rival in second through fractions of 23.03 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 47.07 for the half-mile, and 1:11.35 for six furlongs. Malagacy began his bid on the final turn, moved to the lead in the stretch, and went on to cover 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.

“I was really satisfied with the way he did it,” said winning rider Javier Castellano. “He did it the right way. When I asked him turning for home, he took off.”

Sonneteer rallied for second, winning a photo for the place over Untrapped. The horse entered off a maiden special weight sprint at Santa Anita in which he finished second to Kimber, who is under consideration for next week’s Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby, according to officials at Sunland. 

The Rebel exacta of 6-3 returned $285.10. 

Malagacy is a son of Shackleford and the Dehere mare Classiest Gem. He won his career debut in a maiden special weight Jan. 4 at Gulfstream, drawing off by 15 lengths while covering 5 1/2 furlongs in a rapid 1:03.60. He backed up the effort with a first-level allowance win over 6 1/2 furlongs, rolling by seven length Feb. 12. In both races he also was ridden by Castellano.

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“He doesn’t do anything wrong,” Castellano said. “Every single race he’s been impressive.”

Pletcher said after handling 1 1/16 miles, the next logical step for Malagacy will be a test 1 1/8 miles. He said a race that makes sense for that move is the Arkansas Derby. The horse will return to Palm Beach Downs on Monday, said Pletcher.

Pletcher has now won two of the major preps for 3-year-olds at Oaklawn. He captured last month’s Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest with One Liner.

Malagacy races for Sumaya Us Stables. He earned $540,000 for the win in the Rebel.

Sonneteer earned 20 points for the Kentucky Derby off his runner-up finish, while Untrapped picked up 10. Petrov, who was fourth, earned five points Saturday.

The remaining order of finish in the Rebel was Silver Dust in fifth, followed by Lookin At Lee, Appalachian Gem, Uncontested, Royal Mo, American Anthem, and Silver Bullion.

Oaklawn handled a meet-high $10.7 million on its 11-race card Saturday. The estimated on-track attendance was 36,000 on a sunny afternoon in the 70s in which the infield was open for the first time this meet. Rebel Day traditionally is the second biggest day of the meet behind Arkansas Derby Day.




Johnny Matheis 6 months ago
Disappointing. I like Petrov going into the race, but he had no excuse. Great trip. It doesn't look good. Of course it looks even worse for those who finished behind the top four. The top four look to be derby long shots, and the others completely out. Disappointing even more because this race had what so far was the best bloodlines of leading derby contenders, and none made a splash. When you look at who finished second, it's hard to be enthused right now.
Amul Patel 6 months ago
all the way TAPWRIT 
Tony Kiriakidis 6 months ago
Me too love how he sustain closing run in Tampa
Richard Baltimore 6 months ago
American  anthem will win the  rebel 
John Stevelberg 6 months ago
Perhaps a calendar would be helpful.
Tony Kiriakidis 6 months ago
Ok Todd. Here we go. Send malagancy in derby get a front running rider. Have one liner stalk with Javier. Put Johnny v on taprit and let him close. U have the derby. And once u get number 2 everyone shuts up. Let me find out battalion runner can move to. 
mike 6 months ago
Same tune with Pletcher each year- also same result, not winning the Derby this year.
Tony Kiriakidis 6 months ago
Wrong one derby in 2010 with super savor. Also danza and revolutionary had good thirds recently. He will get derby 2
mike 6 months ago
Not this year he won't. Remember you read it here. Can't stand how he treats horses.
Eric Lindemier 6 months ago
i'll be surprised if any of those horses finish in the top 5 in the derby.
Tony Kiriakidis 6 months ago
What is wrong with Taprit and One liner. I think malagacy won't win but other 2?
Scott 6 months ago
I find myself watching these preps looking for a horse that had some bad luck and might have enjoyed more ground.  Yet again, I'm looking at Petrov and thinking that when he was ready to do his best running the luck just wasn't there for him.  The worst part for him is that he fell all the way to 4th in the photo meaning he needs a nice showing to even make the gate come Derby Day.  He still has a distance pedigree and his running style puts him in the mix every race, so I'll continue to watch him and see if he might qualify as a "long shot special" (15 to 1 or higher).  I'm probably fooling myself with this guy, because at some point you have to create your own luck on the track and he's yet to do that this year.

Malagacy had a perfect race in my opinion and I think he'll be bet down come Derby Day, especially if he comes back and wins the Arkansas Derby in similar fashion as the Rebel Stakes.  I don't like his pedigree though, his trainer (it's still fairly inexplicable why Todd Pletcher hasn't had more Derby winners, but the numbers don't lie) or his foundation and in my book that's 3 strikes and you're out.  I don't suppose any horse is a complete toss until the Post draw for the Derby, but I'm guessing he won't make the win tier or 2nd tier of my Trifecta Wheel.

quick notes on other would be contenders:

Soneteer - 99-1 and he gets a nose in front to get into the Derby hunt.  Why not watch him again and see if it was a fluke.  If it was, then the horses behind him in the Rebel really will have to make strong cases in their final preps.

Untrapped - Thomas below suggested an inside track bias and if that's true than Untrapped ran his best race of the season until he hit the "quicksand".  However, it's hard to get on board a horse that seems to fail at the end of 1 1/16 races when the Derby is 1 1/4.  Remember how Girvin ran right past him in the Southwest.

Royal Mo - He was wide the whole trip, so maybe he has an excuse.  

American Anthem - another wide runner.

I don't think any of the other horses in the field are worthy of Derby consideration.  Uncontested has again proven he's a front runner that can't carry his speed the whole way and Lookin At Lee seems too slow to be close enough to hit the board come Derby Day and now he might be in danger of not making the gate.

Richard Kennedy 6 months ago
MALAGACY Ran Beautifully under Masterful ride by Javier.     
Had $20 on Winner, but blew exotics.  CONGRATS to Alll!! Definitely a Top 2017 KD Contender!! - Racetrack Rik
Amul Patel 6 months ago
Tom 6 months ago
This horse reminds me of Caracortado from 2010 derby trail.........small, muscular quarter horse sort of build that could carry his speed aways.  Caracortado got his head in front at the top of the stretch in the Preakness but faded........Malagacy will do damage up to 1@1/8
Shahrokh Saidi-Taleb 6 months ago
These trainers hold their horses to the last minute to win points towards Derby.
Arrogate thought Bob baffert and Todd plecher held Malagasy to now to get 50 points .
I would love to see sonneteer in 1 1/8. Or 1 1/4 race 
i think Malagasy should be a horse to watch from now
Javier Castellano has to pick who he will ride in Kentucky Derby now.
Would it be GUNNY or Malagasy
mike 6 months ago
My selection of Royal Mo today was incorrect,but I knew American Anthem wouldn't win.
Tom 6 months ago
Gunny for sure..........pedigree for the derby distance is very stout
Joe Rockhold 6 months ago
If Malagacy handles a mile and 1/8th as well as he did a mile and 1/16 I'd think he'd lean that way.  Good thing is he gets to ride them both one more time before making his decision.
Shahrokh Saidi-Taleb 6 months ago
I feel bad for sonneteer he got blocked at the beginning of the race then the stretch on the rail forced by Petrov still
At 99/1 he almost pulled an upset in the rebel .
I have to give it to Malagasy what a horse at the end when castellano thought he needs him to go little more the horse just changed another gear and took of but Javier shot him down soon as he knew he has the race