03/13/2008 12:00AM

Rebel lures Zito to town with Anak Nakal


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Kentucky Derby-winning trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Nick Zito will square off at Oaklawn Park on Saturday in the $300,000 Rebel Stakes. Lukas is pointing Stone Bird, a two-time winner at the meet, for the 1 1/16-mile race, while Zito has sent in Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner Anak Nakal.

A field of seven or eight was considered probable for Rebel as of Wednesday. Of the prospective starters, Grade 2 winner Anak Nakal is the most accomplished. He will be making his second start of the year following a troubled eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 24.

Prior to that race, he rallied for a half-length win in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in his third career start last Nov. 24. Anak Nakal is a rare Oaklawn starter for the East Coast-based Zito, who said there were a couple of reasons for the ship to Arkansas.

"He was a lightly raced horse last year," Zito said. "And I don't think he got too much, obviously, out of the Fountain of Youth. I thought he was going to need some racing. This is a good spot. A lot of nice horses have come out of this race."

Curlin won the Rebel last year, while Lawyer Ron and Smarty Jones captured the race in 2006 and 2004, respectively. All went on to win Grade 1 races, with Curlin the reigning Horse of the Year.

Anak Nakal, a son of Victory Gallop, flew in Tuesday from Florida. He won his career debut in a seven-furlong maiden special weight race at Belmont Park last September, and went on to run second in the Grade 3 Nashua at Aqueduct before the Kentucky Jockey Club.

Stone Bird has raced twice around two turns, and won both times. His first score came in a one-mile maiden special weight here on Jan. 21, when he stalked the pace and was up for a neck win in his fifth career start. He ran next on Feb. 9 and won a $62,500 optional claiming race, also at a mile. Stone Bird dueled early, then went on to a 5 1/2-length win, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 83.

"That last race I was impressed with because I think it was the first time he really put it together," said Lukas. "I loved the way he did it. He's starting to finish well."

Lukas said the race convinced him to look to the Rebel with Stone Bird, a son of Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone. Stone Bird is out of the mare Bird Cage, who is a half-sister to both Birdstone, the winner of the Belmont and Travers, and Bird Town, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks.

The Rebel, which has been upgraded to a Grade 2 this year, is the final local prep for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 12.

Z Fortune, the runner-up to Pyro in the Grade 3 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, is the probable favorite. Others expected to start are Sierra Sunset, Sacred Journey, and He's Eze. Golden Yank is possible for the race, said his trainer, Gary Thomas.

Colton wins for first time since 2002

Jockey Robert Colton won with his first mount since Aug. 28, 2002 last Saturday at Oaklawn, when he guided Sentebale to victory in the second race for trainer Tim Ritchey. With the win, Colton is 17 victories shy of career win 4,000.

"That's a goal," said Colton, 51.

Colton had long been a prominent rider on the East Coast. While away from race riding the past five years, he was a busy man.

"I was in the 'Seabiscuit' film and then I worked for the Guild," he said of the National Jockeys' Guild.

Colton also galloped horses, and said he was encouraged to make a comeback by Ritchey.

Sentebale raced with the pace in the six-furlong maiden special weight and won by a half-length over Raposa. She paid $13.

"It felt great," said Colton. "It always feels great to win."

Force Freeze heading to Bachelor

Force Freeze, a 3-year-old who remained perfect in two starts with a sharp allowance win last Sunday, is being pointed to the $50,000 Bachelor here April 6, said his trainer, Allen Milligan.

Force Freeze won his maiden at Oaklawn by 8 1/2 lengths Feb. 9, and earned a Beyer of 94. He backed up that win in the allowance, when he set the pace and covered six furlongs in 1:09.95 to earn another Beyer of