It was supposed to be Arkansas Derby Day at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, but the pandemic knocked Oaklawn Park’s biggest day of the meeting until the first Saturday of May.
In its place we have a pair of stakes on tap in Hot Springs, the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile which drew a competitive field of 14 older runners and the $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes, which drew 13 and serves as a prep for the Arkansas Derby.
The Al Stall trained Tom’s d’Etat is the 3-1 morning line favorite for the Oaklawn Mile. The seven-year-old won three of his seven starts last year, capping off his campaign by winning the Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs.
With so few tracks running, and sparse stakes races, fields will be big, and this race is no exception, drawing 14 runners from all over the country.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert ships in Improbable (7-2) from the west coast. The colt made two trips to Oaklawn Park last year, running second in the Rebel (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). The colt drew a tough post breaking from the far outside.
Mr. Money is making his first start since a seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita last November. He came into that race a neck away from having a five-race winning streak.
FS 1 will be televising the action on Saturday from 1:30 to 7:00 ET and the NBC Sports Network will simulcast the TVG Network from 4:00 to 8:00 ET.
Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 9 The Oaklawn Mile Post time 4:43 CT
2 Mr. Money 4-1
3 Tom’s d’Etat 3-1
4 Pioneer Spirit 6-1
14 Improbable 7-2
The Calhoun trainee won four of his eight starts last year including three straight Grade 3 wins coming in the Matt Winn at Churchill Downs, the Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand and the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park. He tossed in a dud in his last start of the year in a seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Four runners have come out of that race to run back, two winners and one runner up finish in stakes company. The barn is 23% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff. His win at a mile came at one turn in the Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill Downs last May. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and should be able to work out a trip sitting not far off the pace.
The seven-year-old is making his first start since winning the Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs last November. He won three of his last four starts last year and has earned triple digit Beyers in his last six starts. Stall was pointing this guy toward the Ben Ali at Keeneland which would have been run today but the pandemic wiped out the spring meeting at the Lexington track. His win at a mile came going one turn and he is best at nine furlongs. He looks as if he is tactical enough that Rosario should be able to have him in a good tracking spot, but his price may end up lighter than his 3-1 morning line.
The Diodoro barn has been sending out live runners at the meeting here and this guy is coming off a third in the slop in the Essex Handicap. The barn claimed him for $150,000 last fall at Churchill Downs and he won his first two starts for the barn including the Fifth Season here three back at a mile. The seven-year-old rarely runs a bad one, landing in the money in 24 of his 31 career starts and five of seven over the main track here. He has some early zip and should be forwardly placed which is where you want to be at a mile here with the short stretch.