Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will send out the favorite in both divisions of the Arkansas Derby (G1) on Saturday at Oaklawn Park.
Baffert will saddle even money favorite Charlatan in the first division, which goes off as race 11 on a 14-race card. The colt makes his stakes debut after earning triple digit Beyers in his first two career starts, both wins.
Nadal is also undefeated and goes as the 5-2 morning line favorite in the second division. The colt won the Rebel (G2) over a sloppy surface at Oaklawn Park on March 14 in his last outing.
Each race is worth 170 total points as Road to the Kentucky points races. The top four finishers will earn 100-40-20-10 points.
Of course, today was supposed to be a day of downing a few Mint Juleps and watching the Run for the Roses, but instead the first jewel of the Triple Crown will be held on the first Saturday of September. There still is no word on when the Preakness (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) will be run due to the pandemic.
Tracks Opening Soon
We could start to see more tracks opening soon. Churchill Downs will start off their meeting on May 16, and Santa Anita is targeting starting racing again the same week. We may see racing in New York return in late May or June, and racing at Mountaineer Park and Charles Town will return later this month.
Tampa Bay Downs extended their meeting until the end of the month, but today’s card at Oaklawn Park is the final day of their meeting.
Fox Sports 1 will cover the card from Oaklawn Park from 1:00 to 8:00 ET. The NBC Sports Network picks up the action today from 6:00 to 8:00 ET, simulcasting the TVG Network.
NBC will have three hours of coverage featuring classic Kentucky Derbies and televising a “Virtual Kentucky Derby” with the lineup consisting of the 13 Triple Crown winners. Secretariat is the early +200 betting favorite at Jazz Sports.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 12 strongest plays from Gulfstream Park and Oaklawn Park.
Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby times two:
OP Race 11 The Arkansas Derby G1 (5:29 CT)
#1 Charlatan 1-1
#10 Crypto Cash 20-1
#4 Gouverneur Morris 9-2
#11 Basin 8-1
The Baffert trainee draws the rail and got a break with the scratch of the speedy Shooters Shoot. The Baffert trainee figures to be sent and may be able to shake loose early and if he does, he is going to be really tough to run down. He broke his maiden going six furlongs in gate to wire fashion and then handled his first trip going two turns beating Alw-1 optional claimers both with solid speed figures, tops in this field and the best of his crop. This guy was a $700,000 Keeneland purchase and out of the stakes winner Authenticity ($883,362) who has dropped one other foal to race, stakes winner Hanalei Moon ($295,090). This colt catches the weaker division of the races today and is going to be really tough at a light price.
This longshot comes off the poly at Turfway Park where he stumbled coming out of the gate, was away last and made a mild late run to finish fourth. It as is first start since beating Alw-2L foes at Churchill Downs two back on turf in his first start against winners. He graduated on the main track at Ellis Park three back. He has some late run and is going to get overlooked on the tote in here. He is out of the stakes winner Crypto’s Best ($158.090) who has dropped seven other winners and two are stakes winners, top earner Lenstar ($262,267), who was not a stakes winner but did win twice over the main track here. McPeek scored with Swiss Skydiver in yesterday’s Fantasy (G3), paying $34.20.
OP Race 13 The Arkansas Derby G1 (6:43 CT)
#7 Silver Prospector 10-1
#5 Nadal 5-2
#10 Farmington Road 12-1
#11 Wells Bayou 7-2
The Asmussen trainee Silver Prospector caught a sloppy track last out in the Rebel (G2) where is was caught in a bit tight going into the first turn, saved some ground but then found some traffic and then was bothered slightly in the stretch in a sixth place finish. He won the Southwest (G3) two back and I thought he was going to give Nadal a run for his money last out. This guy won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in the slop four back and is capable of much better than his last effort. he has a shot of turning the tables here on the stretch out to nine furlongs and the 10-1 morning line looks generous.
This colt is perfect in three starts, dueling for the early lead and finishing gamely to win the Rebel last out in his local debut and first start around two turns. He broke his maiden going 6 1/2 and then won the San Vicente (G2) at seven furlongs. He has plenty of pedigree to handle nine furlongs, by Blame out of a Pulpit mare. Baffert has won this race twice including with American Pharoah in 2015. The strategy figures to be to just send him. There are several foes in here that have some early zip that could makes this tough for him. The 5-2 looks fair but this guy seems likely to go off shorter.