Rebel Stakes and Confidence Game 2023 Prep Race Recap

Kentucky Derby prep race recap of the 2023 Rebel Stakes and winner Confidence Game.
Kentucky Derby prep race recap of the 2023 Rebel Stakes and winner Confidence Game. / Associated Press

The Championship Series races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby featured 15 major prep races that awarded 50 to 100 points to the winner and a spot in the starting gate for the May 6 Kentucky Derby.

The 1 1/16 mile Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park was won by longshot Confidence Game (18/1) on Feb. 25. Jockey James Graham rode him to a 1-length victory and held off Red Route One along with upcoming Derby runners Reincarnate and Verifying.

James Graham has ridden Confidence Game in six of his seven starts. He'll be aboard the Candy Ride colt again in the 2023 Kentucky Derby. Graham is riding in his third Kentucky Derby since 2018 with a best finish of 10th. Trainer J. Keith Desormeaux brings his fourth colt to Louisville to Run for the Roses with a best finish of 2nd with Exaggerator (2016). Desormeaux purchased Confidence Game for a mere $25,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September yearling sale.

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Confidence Game Kentucky Derby Longshot

Confidence Game will be a longshot in the Kentucky Derby, according to FanDuel Racing odds. But a week before the race he's taking money at sportsbooks offering fixed odds, which have been cut in half down to 20/1. Confidence Game blazed 5 furlongs Saturday in :59 on the fast track, earning the bullet from 54 works at the distance a week before the Kentucky Derby.

Still, Confidence Game will half to overcome the added distance and these odds and trends: Since 1929, the longest layoff for any Kentucky Derby winner has been seven weeks. Confidence Game will be entering the Kentucky Derby off of a 10-week layoff. 

The Rebel Stakes moved to 1 1/16 mile race in 1984. Since then, two horses have won the Rebel and Kentucky Derby - Smarty Jones (2004) and American Pharoah (2015), who went on to win the Triple Crown. Sunny's Halo (1983) also won the Rebel Stakes and Kentucky Derby. Victory Gallop (1998) won the Rebel and finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before winning the Belmont Stakes. All four of those horses also won the Arkansas Derby.

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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.