Ole Rebel Captures Fair Grounds Thriller

(from Fair Grounds report)
The prominent team of owner Dr. Glen Warren and trainer Andrew Leggio Jr. made their presence felt on opening day at Fair Grounds as Ole Rebel closed from last to capture Thursday's $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap before an opening day crowd of 7,465.

A determined Ole Rebel, ridden by Corey Lanerie, got up in the final strides to nail Wildcat Shoes by a nose on the wire, with a gritty Beau's Town just another nose back in third, running six furlongs in 1:10.38.

"I was worried at the quarter pole that I wasn't going to have enough time to make up the ground," said Lanerie, who won this event for the third consecutive year. "I took my chances, whether it be a loss or not, and swung him out. That way I had a clear path."

Ole Rebel settled at the back of the pack early, as Artemus Sunrise and Wildcat Shoes blitzed through an opening half-mile in :45.37. On the far turn, Wildcat Shoes, last year's winner of the Sugar Bowl Handicap locally, shook off Artemus Sunrise and opened up a clear advantage as the field straightened for home.

Ole Rebel began to put in his late rally up the rail before the hole suddenly closed, forcing him to swing to the far outside in search for running room. The 5-year-old son of Carson City finally got clear running in midstretch, and closed with a flurry.

Beau's Town, the 4-5 favorite, also began to grind away at Wildcat Shoes' lead between horses, and the trio headed for a blanket finish inside the sixteenth pole.

Leggio, who got off to a quick start last season at Fair Grounds by winning the first two of three stakes events run with Warren-owned horses, was happy to start fast again this year.

"This is our first stakes win of the season," said Leggio. "I love it."

Beau's Town, the winner of the 2003 running of the Pelleteri Breeders' Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds, broke slower than usual but recovered to close well, only to fall two noses short at the end.

"He bobbled his head when the gate kicked, and I had to go to Plan B," said jockey Tracy Hebert, who was aboard Beau's Town. "Our plan was to go on with it, but it didn't work out that way so I just stalked them. It took him a little while to get into it, but when he did the race was over."

Ole Rebel, who returned $11, carried his form over from a solid summer campaign at Louisiana Downs when he won three stakes events. He now boasts career earnings of more than $294,000.

(Chart, Equibase)