'We Just Need Some Racing Luck': Reincarnate Returns To Oaklawn For Arkansas Derby - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘We Just Need Some Racing Luck’: Reincarnate Returns To Oaklawn For Arkansas Derby

Reincarnate at Oaklawn Park

Roughly 20 minutes after Reincarnate finished a troubled third in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) Feb. 25 at Oaklawn, trainer Tim Yakteen was asked if he would return with something for the Arkansas Derby.

“We'll come back,” Yakteen said.

True to his word, the Southern California-based Yakteen has returned to Oaklawn for Saturday's $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles. And he's back with a familiar face in birthday boy Reincarnate, the 5-2 program favorite for Oaklawn's fourth and final Kentucky Derby points race. Reincarnate actually turns 3 Saturday.

“This has been the horse that we planned on coming back with,” Yakteen said Wednesday afternoon. “Obviously, you need things to work out for you. Things fell into place and we're giving him another opportunity.”

The 1 1/16-mile Rebel, Oaklawn's third Kentucky Derby points race, marked Reincarnate's first start for Yakteen. Reincarnate, a son of champion Good Magic, had made his first five career starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The colt was transferred to Yakteen shortly before the Rebel, owing to Baffert trainees being ineligible for Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Churchill Downs suspended Baffert for two years after his 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, was disqualified because of a medication violation.

Reincarnate endured an eventful trip in the Rebel and was beaten 2 ½ lengths by Confidence Game after losing valuable position when shuffled back shortly after the start and having to check approaching the eighth pole under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Reincarnate trailed by 11 lengths after the opening quarter – he had been on the early lead throughout most of his career – and was shut off when making his move in midstretch.

“I think it was a combination of everything,” said Yakteen, a former Baffert assistant who has given the return call to Velazquez. “What I liked the most is that he never gave up. Johnny never lost confidence in the horse and the horse never lost confidence in himself and he kept trying to the wire.”

Reincarnate has worked three times at Santa Anita in advance of the Arkansas Derby, which will offer 200 points (100-40-30-20-10, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Reincarnate (15 points) is in a precarious position, ranking 34th on the latest Kentucky Derby leaderboard released by Churchill Downs. Reincarnate was a front-running neck winner of the $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) at 1 mile Jan. 8 at Santa Anita, but was ineligible for its 10 qualifying points because he was still with Baffert. Reincarnate will likely need a top two finish in the Arkansas Derby to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters.

“I focus on my own horses,” Yakteen said. “But in all fairness, there's no doubt that we're going to have to run a big race to guarantee ourselves a berth in the Kentucky Derby. Fingers crossed that we're given that opportunity because I definitely feel he's validated himself in some of his past starts, that he belongs there, and so now we just need some racing luck.”

A $775,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase, Reincarnate races for a high-profile ownership conglomerate that includes SF Racing (Gavin Murphy), Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf), Madaket Stables (Sol Kumin), Robert Masterson and Stonestreet Stables (Barbara Banke). Overall, Reincarnate has a 2-3-1 record from six starts and earnings of $231,900.

Yakteen finished fourth in last year's Arkansas Derby with Doppelganger, who moved to the trainer's barn shortly before the race to try and collect Kentucky Derby qualifying points after previously being with Baffert. Yakteen trains one the country's leading Kentucky Derby prospects this year in Practical Move and has another former Baffert trainee, Fort Bragg, entered in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Yakteen said he will be in Hot Springs Saturday to saddle Reincarnate.

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