Lawyer Ron advances Derby argument with decisive Rebel win.

Lawyer Ron advances Derby argument with decisive Rebel win.

Jeff Coady

Rebel an Open, Shut Case for Lawyer Ron

The doubters are thinning out as the seasoned Triple Crown contender Lawyer Ron turned in an impressive victory in Saturday's $300,000 Rebel (gr. III) for 3-year-olds before 32,983 at Oaklawn Park, recording his fifth consecutive win.

Favored Lawyer Ron won for the third time at the 1 1/16-mile distance, including the Risen Star (gr. III) at Louisiana Downs earlier this year, and has now won all six of his starts on dirt for trainer Robert Holthus.

"I think this is a big accomplishment," Holthus said. "Everything went about as well as we planned. Once he made his move, he pretty much had it made."

With regular rider John McKee aboard, Lawyer Ron fell back early from his rail starting post position and stalked the leaders from mid-pack, a change from his gate-to-wire win in the Southwest Stakes over the same track in his last start Feb. 25. The son of Langfuhr  angled to the outside entering the final turn and edged up on the leaders while four wide, taking command entering the stretch.

He put Music School and Kip Deville away in upper stretch and finished powerfully to win by three lengths over late running Red Raymond, who nipped Steppenwolfer for second. Well Said was a close fourth-place finisher. The final time was 1:44. Holthus also trains Red Raymond.

McKee said the race went according to plan, despite rain showers.

"I just followed instructions, he did the rest," McKee said.

McKee said Holthus told him to get off the rail out of the first turn.

"He settled in real nice down the back side. I had three horses up ahead and while it looked liked like we were losing some ground around the turn I think the best part of the track was three or four lanes off the rail, which was exactly where Bob told me he wanted to see the horse.

"In the stretch he really kicked it in and gave me a big move," McKee said.

Private Vow, the 2-1 second choice trained by Steven Asmussen, stalked the leaders for Shaun Bridgmohan into the stretch and appeared poised to move with Lawyer Ron in the stretch but tired to finish seventh. Private Vow made his first start since winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 26.

Lawyer Ron, headed for the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) April 15, has now won four consecutive stakes races, earning $180,000 for his biggest victory Saturday. He now sports a record of 6-1-3 in 13 starts with earnings of $620,008.

Lawyer Ron paid $5.60, $3.80, and $2.80.

Red Raymond, who improved on his third-place finish in the Southwest, returned $11.80 and $4.80 with Luis Quinonez aboard. He finished a neck in front of Steppenwolfer.

"We were thinking about taking him to the Illinois Derby (gr. II)," Holthus said of Red Raymond. "But now I think we will keep both of them here for the Arkansas Derby."

Steppenwolfer, looking to move up after his close second-place finish in the Southwest, never threatened the winner this time, finishing a neck in front of Well Said and paying $2.60 to show.

Well Said was followed by Film Fortune, Nob Hill Deelite, Private Vow, Music School, Kip Deville and Travelin Leroy.

(Chart, Equibase)