A beautiful sunny day on Friday at Hot Springs will turn into a rainy Saturday as a field of eleven line up in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park.
The race is the final major Road to the Kentucky Derby points race, with 100-40-20-10 points up for grabs toward entry into the Run for the Roses.
There is a 100% chance of thundershowers on Saturday.
It looks as if Derby hopefuls are going to need close to 40 points to stamp a ticket to Louisville, and the morning line favorite for the race needs to pick up some points to head to Churchill Downs.
The Bob Baffert trained Improbable is currently sitting with 25 points, which is good for 26th place in the point standings. The colt is currently listed at 14-1 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at USRacing.
A top three finish for Improbable will get him into the Kentucky Derby field, while a fourth would place him right on the bubble for qualifying.
There are 19 spots available with the 20th going to Master Fencer, the winner of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Currently in 19th place in the point standings is Omaha Beach with 37.5 points. Omaha Beach is the second choice on the morning line for the Arkansas Derby at 2-1.
Complicating matters is today’s $200,000 Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. That race offers up 20-8-4-2 Derby points.
Atwistafate is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Lexington. The colt has 30 points, putting him in 23rd place in the standings.
Let’s head out to Hot Springs for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 11 The Arkansas Derby (G1) Post time 6:43 CT
7 Galilean 10-1
1 Improbable 8-5
2 Omaha Beach 2-1
6 Gray Attempt 8-1
The colt takes the blinkers off after pressing the early pace down along the inside and was unable to go with Long Range Toddy and Improbable late, checking in third in the Rebel (G2) while beaten 2 ½ lengths. The colt won three of his first four starts winning a restricted stake in his debut and beating Cal breds two and three back. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was a $600,000 purchase, by Uncle Mo out of an El Prado mare that should be able to handle nine furlongs and he is bred to like a wet track. He makes his third start of his current form cycle and looks as if he still has some upside. The extra ground and likelihood of a wet track makes this guy a player here at a decent price. Three of the last four winners of this race exited the Rebel.
The Bob Baffert trainee is going to need to fire to get into the Kentucky Derby field as he is sitting with just 25 points. He beat our top pick last out in the Rebel where he stalked the early pace, headed for home tight the lead and got caught by Long Range Toddy in the final jumps. It appeared he may have idled a bit when he got the lead and now Baffert adds blinkers on this guy here. The barn is 40% winners (with a +ROI) when adding the hood. He won his first three starts last year and may have needed his last as he was coming off a three-month break. An off track likely would be a plus for this colt. He is by City Zip out of a A.P. Indy mare.
The Doug O’Neill trainee took five tries to finally break his maiden and was sent off at 9-2 in the Rebel where he battled for the early lead, opened up and just held on to win by a nose over Game Winner. The barn always touted this colt as a good one and his first three starts came on turf last year and he missed by a nose and a neck in his second and third career outings. The colt owns a solid pace profile throughout and he showed he can handle a wet track, breaking his maiden in the slop at seven furlongs at Santa Anita by nine lengths. He is bred to like the off going, by War Front out of a Seeking the Gold mare that has dropped three other winners including multiple stakes winner Take Charge Brandi ($1.69 million). He is a legit threat here, but his price is likely going to be on the short side.
WIN: Galilean to win at 6-1 or better.
EXACTA: 1,7 / 1,3,6,7
TRIFECTA: 1,7 / 1,3,6,7 / 1,3,6,7,8