TORONTO, May 11, 2023 – Ontario Bred Red River Rebel will face seven foes in the Grade 3 $150,000 Jacques Cartier Stakes on Sunday at Woodbine.

A six-furlong main track event for 4-year-olds and upwards, the Jacques Cartier is the first start of the season for the 5-year-old son of Reload.

Bred by Denny Andrews and Northern Dawn Stables, who also share ownership, Red River Rebel arrives at his latest engagement off a fifth-place finish, just 2 ½ lengths behind the winner, in the six-furlong Grade 2 Kennedy Road Stakes last November.

Trained by Krista-Cole Simpson, the gelding boasts a record of 4-0-2 from 15 starts and $203,617 (U.S.) in purse earnings.

“I took over [as trainer] this winter. He’s a nice horse, very tall and big. He’s a good boy. At first, I was told he was a little difficult to ride, but I get on him in the morning and I have no problems. He likes to train, rest, have his lunch, and then sleep. It’s a pretty good routine he’s got going.”

Red River Rebel has had a steady work tab heading into Sunday’s tilt, including a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.20 over the Woodbine main track on May 5.

“He’s had some really solid works underneath him. We’re very happy with the works and how he’s come out of them. Morning or afternoon, he always shows up.”

Red River Rebel launched his career on October 23, 2020, finishing third in a race won by former Cole-Simpson trainee Candy Overload (also a 5-year-old son of Reload), who will contest the Jacques Cartier.

One race later, Red River Rebel turned the tables on Candy Overload when the former won the Frost King Stakes, and the latter was third.

“He’s beaten Candy Overload and Candy Overload has beaten him, so it certainly makes for an interesting storyline. They both have different running styles. ‘Candy’ likes to come from last, and ‘Rebel’ likes to be in the mix from the start.”

Cole-Simpson has developed a strong bond with Red River Rebel, a connection with the chestnut that others in her barn have yet to duplicate.

“When I’m around, he’s very kind to me. I can kiss him on the face, hug him, and he’s lovely. But when the boys come around, he knows, and he’ll snap at them and do other stuff. They’ll ask, ‘How come you just kissed him and he’s trying to bite us?’ I don’t know what it is, but I guess he’s just very smart. I also got Keveh [jockey, Nicholls] back because he rode Candy Overload, so he’s pretty excited for this opportunity.”

Other starters include last year’s Jacques Cartier winner and 2022 Sovereign Award finalist (champion male sprinter) Arzak, and graded stakes winner Ironstone, who was a Sovereign finalist in the 3-year-old male category.

Newly minted Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Pink Lloyd won the race four straight times, from 2017-20. Essence Hit Man netted the natural hat trick from 2011-13.

The Jacques Cartier goes as race seven. First post is 1:10 p.m. Fans can watch and wager on all the action with and the Dark Horse Bets app.