NO PAROLE GOING TO REBEL WITH A CAUSE
The prep race season for the Kentucky Derby is most certainly a special time of year. Dreams of immortality will dance through the heads of many as they navigate that twisting path that leads to the first Saturday in May. In the end it is about proving your good enough to run beneath the twin spires in the world’s most famous race. That validation is exactly what one speedy colt is looking for in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 14.
No Parole is an unbeaten son of Violence that has turned in some jaw-dropping performances in his brief three race career. The first start back on December 15, 2019 saw him roll to a 14 ¼ length win in a six furlong race at the Fairgrounds. About a month later (January 11, 2020) in another six furlong event at Fairgrounds, he scampered home 13 ¼ lengths in front of everyone else. The third outing was another romp as he stretched out in distance to a mile. No Parole escaped with a 6 ½ length win in the Premier Night Prince Stakes at Delta Downs on February 8, 2020.
Considering this Tom Amoss trained colt is unbeaten by a combined 34 lengths, is it a crime we have not heard more about this grandson of Bluegrass Cat? No Parole is a Louisiana-bred and that has sentenced him in the minds of some. With all of his wins coming against those born in Cajun country and considering a Louisiana-bred has never won the Kentucky Derby, some will convict without a good look at the evidence. But if you ask his attorney, it is not a closed case when it comes to this runner.
“No Parole is a very talented horse,” says Amoss. “And I don’t mean he is talented for a Louisiana-bred, I mean he is a talented race horse period. Early on I called (owner) Maggi (Moss) and told her we’ve got a really good one here.”
Following the flashy, front-running wins in the Bayou, Amoss is prepared to put his talent on trial. The Rebel Stakes has long been considered a key stepping stone to Churchill Downs and annually draws top three-year olds from all across the country. Three horses have used this historic dash over Arkansas dirt in their journey to the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle (American Pharoah 2015, Smarty Jones 2004, Sunny’s Halo 1984). Right now, the veteran conditioner is not thinking too far down the road. This is simply an opportunity to see how his horse measures up.
“The timing and distance (mile and a sixteenth)of the race is what we are looking for in his development,” says Amoss. “We would have preferred to run at Fairgrounds but the Louisiana Derby is a mile and three sixteenths this year and that is not within our scope just yet. I understand the competition is going to be a lot tougher, but that will tell us where he is at.”
The measuring stick race is a necessity for every runner as they climb the ladder. No Parole has certainly displayed he speed to go up a few more rungs.
“This guy just seems to get over the ground,” says Amoss. “He has a very efficient stride and really makes it look easy. That is one of the things that tells you he is special.”
Amoss is no stranger to the big stage. Having won over 3200 races in a career that has spanned 32 years, the New Orleans native got perhaps his biggest win last year. Another brilliant speedster in Serengeti Empress took the field gate to wire in the 2019 Kentucky Oaks. Calling upon his vast experience, he was brilliant in taking the Empress from the injured reserve to Oaks circle.
Winning perhaps the most prestigious race for three-year old females was no doubt a special day for Amoss. However, it has not changed the way he approaches the handling of his prized three-year old colt.
“The most significant thing about winning the Oaks was it provided validation for our barn,” says Amoss. “We didn’t do anything different than we had been doing, things just fell into place for us. But the funny thing is people took more notice of us because we won that one special race. The perception of us changed and as we know perception is reality.”
The chance to run in the Rebel will be another one of those real opportunities for Amoss and No Parole. If his horse runs to expected form he could join three others as bayou-born horses ( Vicar’s in Trouble 2014, Zarb’s Magic 1996, Real Dare 1982) that competed in the Kentucky Derby. But regardless of the outcome, this highly successful trainer will keep calm about this colt.
“We realize this is a big jump for him but I think we would be foolish to not try,” says Amoss. “Having been in this business for so long I have learned to temper my enthusiasm. Things can change so quickly in this game. If things work out like we hope we move closer to Kentucky. If they don’t maybe we shorten him up distance wise and take advantage of his running style. We know he is a Louisiana-bred but that doesn’t matter. We will let the race speak for itself.”
Joe Talamo has been named to ride No Parole in this grade 2 race that is worth $1 million. Other expected entrants include heavy hitters like the Bob Baffert trained Nadal and Southwest Stakes winner Silver Pospector.