James Graham helped scramble the Triple Crown picture by riding longshot Confidence Game to victory in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas on Saturday. The 3-year-old colt, owned by Don’t Tell My Wife Stables and trained by Keith Desormeaux, reached the wire in front by one length after running a mile and one-sixteenth over a sloppy track.
Confidence Game got rattled in Oaklawn’s indoor saddling enclosure, but settled down once his Dublin-born and raised rider got him onto the track.
“I was able to settle him down when we were warming up, so he got back into things mentally,” Graham said.
Confidence Game raced in midpack down the backside and struck the lead rounding for home, while well out in the track. He led to the wire, although he was pressured the whole way. He paid $39.00 to win.
“I was really happy with where I was early in the race,” Graham said. “He wasn’t doing too much too soon. He had a ton left down the lane. I’m just so happy for everyone involved and especially this horse. He keeps maturing and doing things the right way. I think the sky is the limit for him.”
The Rebel was Confidence Game’s first stakes win. Purchased for a mere $25,000 as a yearling, he now has three wins from seven starts. Desormeaux indicated that Confidence Game will next start in either the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds or the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn. The colt is closely related to the great race mare Zenyatta, having been foaled by that one’s half-sister.