Saturday's $250,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., will be televised on ESPNEWS at 6:30 p.m. ET. The 8 1/2-furlong Rebel is a late addition to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's TV lineup.The Arkansas Derby (gr. II) prep serves as a showdown featuring Afleet Alex (Northern Afleet--Maggy Hawk, by Hawkster), winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga last year, and undefeated Rockport Harbor (Unbridled's Song--Regal Miss Copelan, by Copelan), who hasn't raced since taking the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct in November. Afleet Alex opened his 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn. He was second behind Wilko in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Greater Good (Intidab--Gather The Clan, by General Assembly), winner of the Southwest Stakes in February, also figures in the Rebel cast, as do Baston Challenge and Jazzy Gallop.
Rockport Harbor is intriguing because he is trained by John Servis and ridden by Stewart Elliott, the same trainer/jockey combo that claimed last year's Rebel with Smarty Jones, who would go on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness (both gr. I). Rockport Harbor comes into the Rebel having battled foot problems over the past several months.