2023 Rebel Stakes & Honeybee Stakes Recap

Late closers were all the rage at Oaklawn Park on Saturday when the 18-1 shot Confidence Game made his stakes breakthrough and booked a spot in the Kentucky Derby when arriving late on the scene in the G2 Rebel Stakes. Wet Paint left it even later in the 2023 Honeybee Stakes, rallying past nine horses in the stretch to set herself up for a crack at the Kentucky Oaks.

Rebel Stakes

G2, $1,000,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 3yo

Confidence does the trick

Another Kentucky Derby prep, another upset winner. This time it was Confidence Game, who came home a comfortable 18-1 winner of the Rebel at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, accounting for fellow closers Red Route One and Reincarnate and earning a spot in the Derby gate with the 50 RTKD points on offer to the winner.

Rebel Stakes Race Video

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Brisk fractions set the race up nicely for Confidence Game, who closed into the speed around the turn on a sloppy track and hit the front in mid-stretch, keeping on well under James Graham to score by a length from the hard-charging Red Route One, who must have been 30 lengths off the pace on the backstretch. There was a length and a half back to the rallying Reincarnate, with the favorite Verifying a one-paced fourth.


“He was a pretty immature colt,” said trainer Keith Desormeaux, “but he has improved mentally and physically and has come into his own now.”


Previously third in the G3 Lecomte Stakes behind Instant Coffee, Confidence Game was making his stakes breakthrough here and with 57 points now sits atop the RTKD leaderboard. With his place in the Derby assured, his trainer was in no hurry to decide on the final prep for the son of Candy Ride.

Rebel Stakes Payout

HORSEWINPLACESHOW
Confidence Game$39$13.20$7.80
Red Route One$8.20$5.00
Reincarnate$5.20

Winning time: 1m 44.21s

Honeybee Stakes

G3, $300,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 3yo fillies

Wet Paint makes a splash

There was a more conventional outcome to the Honeybee, a 50 points Kentucky Oaks prep, when the favored Wet Paint came from a long way back to win going away from long-time leader Condensation and third-choice Grand Love.

Honeybee Stakes Race Video

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The 8-5 favorite, ridden by Flavien Prat for trainer Brad Cox, had nine horses in front of her coming off the turn, but found a smooth path through on the rail and finished with a flourish, drawing three lengths clear at the wire. Three-quarters of a length separated the game Condensation and the no-kick Grand Love.

“She’s a very good filly with a great closing kick,” said Cox of the Godolphin homebred. “I think she’ll handle a mile-eighth and the Oaks is the goal.”

With 70 RTKO points in the bag, Wet Paint is already guaranteed a spot at Churchill Downs, and will likely use the G3 Fantasy over this course and distance on April 1 as her final stepping-stone to the first Friday in May.

Honeybee Stakes Payout

HORSEWINPLACESHOW
Wet Paint$5.40$3.80$3.00
Condensation$14.00$8.60
Grand Love$4.80

Winning time: 1m 45.35s

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