Bob Baffert sent recent maiden winner to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s $900,000 Rebel S. (G2), and the dusty gray son of Tapit came away with a very game 1 ¼-length victory to give his trainer a record sixth victory in the key Kentucky Derby prep race.
The huge purse attracted a full field of 14 3-year-olds, with Cupid breaking from post three. He was a little tardy at the break, but Martin Garcia found an opening shortly thereafter, and was in front as he hit the first turn.
After a quick quarter-mile in just under 23 seconds, Cupid relaxed nicely on the front end and had a 1 ½-length advantage through six furlongs in 1:12.11. Whitmore made a huge move in mid-stretch to pull even with the leader, but Cupid dug right in and pulled away late.
The final time for the 1 1/16-miles was 1:43.84 on a fast track.
"When we hit the top of the stretch, he got lonely and he locked in on the other horse that was coming up on the outside (Whitmore). He responded one more time," Garcia said. "He showed a lot of ability and we know he can run. He really proved today that he is improving. The distance doesn't matter; he can go as far as he wants."
Cupid, owned by the partnership of Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith, broke his maiden on Feb. 7, his third start, but first around two turns. A $900,000 purchase at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling sale, Cupid upped his lifetime earnings to $587,500 with Saturday’s victory.
Baffert’s other Rebel winners, which have all come since 2010, include American Pharoah, Hoppertunity, Secret Circle, The Factor, and Lookin At Lucky.