On a day which was supposed to be the 146th edition of the greatest two minutes in sports at the Kentucky Derby, we’ll instead focus on the card at Oaklawn Park where Derby dreams could become a reality for some horses competing in the Arkansas Derby (Grade I). The race has become a leading prep for the Run for the Roses, and for the first time ever this year it is being split into two divisions.
Race 11 (6:29 p.m. ET) – Arkansas Derby (G1; $500K)
I’m not a fan of wagering on the chalk but sometimes there is no other way to go. CHARLATAN (even money on the morning line) is the class of this field and may very well be the best sophomore colt in the nation. He still has some work to do to prove this status but clearly has a ton of ability. With the scratch of SHOOTERS SHOOT (post position 6) CHARLATAN, who breaks from the rail, should have things his own way and deliver a dominant performance.
Race 12 (7:04 p.m. ET) – Oaklawn Handicap (G2; $600K)
Since we are using CHARLATAN as our single in the first leg of the Pick 4, it allows us to use our bankroll freely in a very contentious contest. Fourteen horses are entered in this race and it is extremely competitive. I’ll take last year’s Wood Memorial victor TACITUS (post position 9, 9/2), this year’s Santa Anita Handicap winner COMBATANT (post position 7, 4/1) and TROPHY CHASER (post position 2, 12/1). Both TACITUS and COMBATANT have been working well and are in good form, while TROPHY CHASER has been impressive since stretching out around two turns.
Race 13 (7:43 p.m. ET) – Arkansas Derby (G1; $500K)
The second division of this contest has more depth on paper than the first. Bob Baffert unloads another weapon from his arsenal in the extremely talented NADAL (post position 2, 5-2). The son of Blame set very fast fractions and still had his nose down first on the wire over this course on March 14 in the Rebel Stakes (Grade II). The colt, however, has some competition in this event with WELLS BAYOU (post position 11, 7-2) and KING GUILLERMO (post position 4, 3-1). KING GUILLERMO was super impressive in capturing the Tampa Bay Derby and has been working like a house on fire since that race. SILVER PROSPECTOR (post position 7, 10-1) and the once highly regarded FARMINGTON ROAD (post position 10, 12-1) could pick up some pieces if there is a hot pace.
TODAY’S POWER PLAY: Win bet on King Guillermo (3/1)
This guy has done absolutely nothing wrong and won going away by nine lengths over a notoriously tricky course at Tampa Bay Downs. His trainer and jockey have no Derby experience but this horse looks ready to roll into Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in September.