03/21/2002 12:00AM

Put up or shut up time for locals


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - It's time for the local 3-year-olds to stand and deliver. The Grade 3, $100,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park on Saturday is their final chance to prove they belong in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby April 13; In order to do that, they will have to beat a trio of shippers Saturday: Ocean Sound, Jeremiah Jack, and Dusty Spike.

Ocean Sound, in from Santa Anita on the heels of a fourth-place finish to Came Home in the Grade 2 San Rafael, and Jeremiah Jack, who adds blinkers following his fourth-place finish in the $100,000 Lecomte at Fair Grounds, could vie for favoritism in the eight-horse Rebel.

The 1 1/16-mile race will determine the future of Ocean Sound, who made his first start on dirt in the San Rafael.

"If he can win this race, he'll stay on for the [Arkansas] Derby," said trainer James Cassidy. "If he can't, he'll go back to the grass."

Cassidy, who trained Jamaican Rum, second-place finisher in last year's Arkansas Derby, purchased Ocean Sound in England last October. After watching Ocean Sound train, Cassidy decided to try him on the main track.

"He's got beautiful action," Cassidy said. "He really covers the ground."

Cassidy was pleased with the determination the colt showed in the San Rafael. "He really gutted it out to finish fourth against good-quality horses," said Cassidy, who has given the mount to Calvin Borel.

Leading rider James Lopez will be aboard Jeremiah Jack, who has had minor throat surgery since the Lecomte, when he was beaten two lengths by Easyfromthegitgo. Since the race, Easyfromthegitgo has finished second, beaten a nose by Repent, in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

Jeremiah Jack, whose biggest career win came in the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles last December, adds blinkers for the Rebel.

Jeremiah Jack's trainer, Tom Amoss, said he was crowded by his rivals in the Lecomte.

"He was intimidated by that," said Amoss. "He doesn't want to be crowded, and we're hoping with the blinkers he'll be more focused on the race [instead of] what's happening around him."

Jeremiah Jack is proven over a route of ground. His chief rivals are not; neither Ocean Sound nor Dusty Spike have won around two turns. But trainer Mark Lee believes Dusty Spike will handle the added distance, based on his second-place finish at a mile in a division of the $75,000 Southwest on March 2.

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