The Spring and a talented three year old colt usually means one thing for most…Kentucky Derby dreams. As runners roll towards a date with destiny, there is one trainer of a very talented horse that prefers to focus simply on the here and now.
Saturday, March 13, one of the key prep races on the road to the Kentucky Derby takes place at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Long considered a big stepping stone to the world’s most famous race, it will mark the three-year old debut of Get Her Number. Trained by Peter Miller, who is one of the most cunning conditioners on the West Coast, this lightly raced son of Dialed In is certainly getting his feet wet in this one as the field comes up saltier than a slice of country ham.
“I know we are asking a lot of him because we are shipping to a track where he has never run, it’s a six-month layoff, and the field is really tough,” says Miller. “The fact is he really needs to run and we just didn’t have a lot of options. This is a good measuring stick that will tell us where he fits in right now.”
The Rebel is a grade 2 race worth $1 million and also awards 85 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with 50 going to the winner. Those factors have attracted some of the top three-year olds to the starting gates. The Brad Cox trained Caddo River along with two horses from the Bob Baffert barn (Hozier, Concert Tour) will line up with highly regarded Keepmeinmind and two horses from the Steve Asmussen contingency (Big Lake, Super Stock).
A grade 1 winner in his last start, Get Her Number will look to build off a superior effort in that American Pharoah Stakes win, which took place back on September 26, 2020. His run that day at Santa Anita was impressive to say the least. Making his first start on dirt, this Gary Barber owned Kentucky-bred was simply dazzling. Rating just off a solid early pace (23.12 opening quarter, 47.07 half mile), the Number came up big down the stretch as he assumed the lead and refused to let anyone pass. Winning by a stout three quarters of a length, Miller’s charge repelled all challenges in gaining his second win in three career starts.
“He really ran super in the Pharoah,” says the California native. “If he can run like that in the Rebel he has a chance to be right there at the end. His first two races were on grass but he had always showed the signs he could be a really good dirt horse. We thought he had something special about him and then he proved us right in that race.”
After some time off for different reasons, Miller is ready to continue his quest of building this Number into a race horse that can be counted on. The Rebel Stakes is the first step towards his goal and that is his only focus at the moment. The Kentucky Derby is not even on his radar as a one step at a time approach is the game plan.
“The Rebel is a big race for us as it is an important step in helping me develop a horse that will be around for the next two or three years,” says Miller. “We love running at Oaklawn Park and I am not thinking past this race. Too many good horses have been ruined over the years because people were too focused on trying to run in the Kentucky Derby. If we make it there and it happens that would be great, but that is not my focus right now with this horse.”
Carded as the 11th race with a scheduled post time of 5:16pm, this mile and a sixteenth race promises to be very competitive. Previous winners like American Pharoah, Smarty Jones, and Sunny’s Halo all found Kentucky Derby immortality after darting over the Arkansas dirt. Should Miller’s Number come up he too will chase the blanket of Roses. But for now, he just wants to be a Rebel.
“Of course everyone wants to win the Kentucky Derby,” says Miller. “Right now all I am worried about is a million dollar race called the Rebel Stakes.”