Updated on 09/17/2011 11:08AM

No secret to Great Notion's strategy

Jeff Coady/Coady Photo
Great Notion, nine-length winner of the Southwest Stakes, starts in Saturday's $125,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Great Notion's rivals may change their strategy in Saturday's $125,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park, but he will not.

Great Notion defeated most of the horses he will face Saturday in his last start, a nine-length win in the $75,000 Southwest Stakes. Great Notion was left alone on an easy lead in that race and was never challenged thereafter.

"I think the other horses are going to change tactics a little bit," said Darrin Miller, who trains Great Notion for Silverton Hills Farm. "They're going to be coming at him differently."

But the prospect of increased pace pressure in the 1 1/16-mile race won't force Miller to experiment with Great Notion, whose three career wins were all wire to wire. "I don't want to change his style," he said.

"I don't want to hinder him in any way, and change up what he's the happiest doing and the most comfortable doing. So, if that's being out on the front end, then so be it."

Great Notion earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 104 in the Southwest, which was his first start around two turns. He came out of the race with some minor bruising on the soles of his hooves, and earlier this week, Miller had considered passing the Rebel and training the colt up to the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby.

Miller wanted to make sure that Great Notion was completely comfortable on his feet following his five-furlong move in 1:01 on Sunday. "We've been taking it a day at a time," said Miller. "He trained aggressively [Thursday].

"Do I think that it's going to compromise him? No, and if I did, I absolutely would not run him."

Great Notion, who is a solidly built colt, was not pressed early in the Southwest, and hit another gear entering the stretch when rivals Alke and Comic Truth came to him. Those two are back for more in the Rebel, and each figures to move forward because the race will be their second back from layoffs.

Sir Cherokee, who closed for fourth in the Southwest, gets an additional sixteenth of a mile to work with in the Rebel, and will benefit from the added distance, as well as the fact that the race ends at the regular wire instead of the sixteenth pole like the one-mile Southwest.

"The stretch run, or the added distance in the stretch, makes a difference," said Mike Tomlinson, who trains Sir Cherokee and is winning at a 44-percent clip at Oaklawn.

"The distance is only going to help my colt according to the way he's trained, and the way he's responded in his races."

James Lopez has the mount, while Terry Thompson will ride Great Notion.

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