03/09/2012 4:53PM

Oaklawn: Gemologist among 14 probables for Rebel

Churchill/rRed Palmer Photography
Gemologist, trained by Todd Pletcher, is scheduled to make his first start since winning the Kentucky Jockey Club last Nov. 26 in next Saturday's Rebel at Oaklawn Park.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The undefeated Gemologist is closing in on his 3-year-old debut, which will come next Saturday in the Grade 2, $500,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the horse is scheduled to work Sunday at Palm Meadows training center in south Florida, then fly into Arkansas on Wednesday. Javier Castellano has the mount in the Rebel, which as of Friday was looking like it could have a maximum gate of 14.

The list of probables includes Secret Circle and Castaway, who swept both divisions of the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest last month at Oaklawn. Trainer Bob Baffert said on Thursday that Rafael Bejarano, who rode both horses at Oaklawn, would have his choice of mount in the Rebel, while the other horse would be ridden by Mike Smith. The horses are scheduled to fly in Thursday.

The Rebel will be Gemologist’s first start since Nov. 26, when he won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. He shows a series of sharp works for his return, and the Rebel became the target for his seasonal debut because it fit well into the horse’s schedule, said Pletcher.

“It’s mainly about the timing,” he said Friday. “We’re looking at a two-prep program working our way back from the Kentucky Derby. With the little bit of the break he got after the stakes win at Churchill Downs, this is sort of where we landed timing-wise.”

Pletcher said the second-half of Gemologist’s “two-prep” program is to be determined, but depending on how things go in the Rebel he could return for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14. Pletcher in 2010 saddled Super Saver to a runner-up finish in the Arkansas Derby and one start later the horse won the Kentucky Derby. Super Saver raced for WinStar Farm, which also owns Gemologist.

Atigun, who finished fifth to Gemologist in the Kentucky Jockey Club, is being pointed for the Rebel, his trainer, Ken McPeek, said Friday. Atigun won an allowance at Oaklawn in his seasonal debut Jan. 15. He had been pointing for the Southwest, but the decision was made to pass on the race following his final work due in part to a small quarter crack.

“We had to patch it,” McPeek said. “We got it patched and didn’t have enough time to make the Southwest. And we weren’t all that thrilled with the distance of the Southwest.”

The Southwest was at a mile, while the Rebel is over 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as Atigun’s allowance score. McPeek said Terry Thompson has the mount in the Rebel.

Cyber Secret, the seventh-place finisher in the Kentucky Jockey Club who won an allowance at Oaklawn on Feb. 4, was to work Saturday for a possible start in the Rebel.

“We’ll see how he goes, see how the race shapes up,” said his trainer, Lynn Whiting. “We’re still under consideration.”

Sabercat, the winner of the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot in November, arrived last week for the Rebel. Trainer Steve Asmussen said he is to be ridden by Corey Nakatani.

The list of probables also includes a number of horses who placed in divisions of the Southwest: Scatman was to have his final work over the weekend, depending on the weather, said his trainer, Mike Lauer. Jake Mo will run back in the Rebel, with Cliff Berry to ride, said trainer Allen Milligan. Reckless Jerry is a go and will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., said his trainer, Kenny Smith. Adirondack King was scheduled to have his final Rebel work on Monday, depending on the weather, said his trainer, John Servis. Stewart Elliott has the mount. Pee H Dee, fourth in the second division of the Southwest, is probable and is to be ridden by Lindey Wade, trainer Chris Richard said Friday.

Najjaar, who has won a maiden special weight and first-level allowance in his last two starts at Oaklawn, is being pointed for the Rebel and is to be ridden by Calvin Borel, according to the horse’s trainer, Dan Peitz.

“I thought the last race was almost perfect,” Peitz said. “He took a step forward.”

Majestic Stride is possible for the Rebel, said his trainer, Jeff Bonde. Another potential starter is Dance with Monarch, winner of a recent first-level allowance route with a Beyer Figure of 84. Unbridled’s Note was to be nominated to the Rebel, said Asmussen.

The Rebel will share a card with the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri.

◗ Salty Strike, a Florida-based runner who in her last start won the $87,000 Dream Supreme at Churchill, is being pointed for the $75,000 Carousel at Oaklawn on April 12, said McPeek. She is to ship to Arkansas on Tuesday.

◗ Arienza, a graded stakes-placed daughter of Horse of the Year Azeri, has been retired and is to be bred this season to a yet to be determined stallion, said Peitz.

◗ A memorial service for Bob Fehler, mutuels supervisor at Oaklawn since 1959, will be held Monday in the backside chapel. It begins at 6 p.m.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman