03/16/2011 4:14PM

Rebel: J P's Gusto no stranger to a fast pace

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
J P's Gusto will likely be part of or just off a fast pace in Saturday's Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The tempo of Oaklawn’s series for 3-year-olds will quicken Saturday, when speedsters The Factor and Sway Away invade from Southern California for the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel.

But awaiting them is J P’s Gusto, a former California resident who is proven at the pace of racing out west. He defeated Sway Away by a half-length in the Grade 2 Best Pal last summer, then, one start later, was a front-running winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.

“He’s got a pretty good turn of foot, that’s for sure,” trainer Joe Petalino said of J P’s Gusto. “But he can also come from off of it.”

J P’s Gusto could get a beautiful setup in the Rebel. He has the speed to get position behind expected leader, The Factor, who set a track record for six furlongs at Santa Anita in December, when he won his maiden in 1:06.80. Sway Away, too, has shown zip. He pushed a quick pace when he won his maiden at five furlongs, and in his final prep for his two-turn debut Saturday, he rattled off seven furlongs in 1:23.60 in a Santa Anita work March 12.

J P’s Gusto, meanwhile, has been sharpening his skills for the matchup. He breezed a bullet five furlongs in 59.40 seconds in company at Oaklawn on Sunday. Petalino said a workmate broke off at the half-mile pole, while J P’s Gusto began his drill at the five-eighths pole, under jockey Bryan McNeil.

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“I wanted to make him work a little bit, make him a little sharper,” Petalino said.

Oaklawn head clocker Jim Hamilton carried J P’s Gusto through fractions of 12 seconds for the opening eighth of a mile, 24 seconds for the first quarter, 36 seconds for three furlongs, 47.60 for the half-mile, and galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.20. The second fastest five-furlong drill of the morning was in 1:00.

Ramon Dominguez, aboard J P’s Gusto when he was second in last month’s Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest at Oaklawn, has the call Saturday for Gem Inc.

The Factor and Sway Away finished a respective one-two last out in the Grade 2 San Vicente at seven furlongs at Santa Anita. For the win, The Factor earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103, which is the best last-race number in the projected Rebel field. As of Wednesday, the race was pushing the maximum gate size of 14. Others expected include Alternation, Archarcharch, Bluegrass Jam, Caleb’s Posse, Dreaminofthewin, Elite Alex, Glint, J W Blue, and Picko’s Pride.

The Factor and Sway Away were due to arrive late Wednesday afternoon aboard a flight also carrying Blind Luck for the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri at Oaklawn on Saturday. Smiling Tiger, a Grade 1-winning sprinter, also is on the flight and is being pointed to the Grade 3, $200,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap here April 14, trainer Jeff Bonde said.

Gorder sees talent in Glint

Kellyn Gorder knows what a quality young horse is as he was responsible for giving last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver some of his earliest training lessons as a yearling when he worked as a farm trainer for WinStar. He also was behind the early development of last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer; 2008 Santa Anita Derby winner Colonel John; and 2009 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed.

“It gives you insight into what makes a good horse, and Glint seems to have a lot of those qualities,” said Gorder, who will send out Glint in the Rebel.

Gorder has brought a 12-horse stable to Oaklawn for the first time and is in the midst of a strong meet. Glint is the stable star. He won the first two starts of his career last fall, taking a maiden special weight at Hoosier by more than nine lengths Sept. 1. He then rolled to a three-length win in the $100,000 Fitz Dixon Memorial Juvenile at 6 1/2 furlongs at Presque Isle on Sept. 25.

“What he did in the stakes was pretty impressive,” Gorder said. “He ended up getting in some trouble. He was bumped pretty hard out of the gate, a horse broke down in front of him, and he got stuck in behind a lot of horses and still scored pretty easily.”

Glint, who Gorder was training for WinStar, was sold at auction in November at Keeneland, for $340,000. Gorder recommended clients Kevin and Tammy Hulse purchase the horse. Glint comes into the Rebel off a third-place finish in the $60,000 Mountain Valley at six furlongs at Oaklawn on March 5, and Gorder said he has long wanted to move the horse to two turns, getting his first shot in the Rebel.

“He’s got a real efficient stride, got a lot of power,” said Gorder, who will give the mount to Gabriel Saez.

◗ Mesa Sunrise returns to the overnight ranks for the eighth race, a $40,000 optional claiming allowance at six furlongs. Jeremy Rose has the mount for trainer Tony Dutrow.