Without the major American sports happening, it’s been a boom time for horse racing in America. And although the 100,000+ patrons weren’t at Churchill Downs for the Run for The Roses today, there was another big race a bit more than eight hours to the southwest in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.
The number of entrants was massive due to the number of connections attempting to get racing experience for their horses despite the Covid-19 pandemic, so the field was split into two divisions for the first time since 1960. Equal points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings were available for both heats, with 100 points for first place, 40 for second, 20 for third, and 10th for fourth place.
Arkansas Derby Division I
“Charaltan broke perfectly.”
Those were the words of track announcer Vic Stauffer after the horses in the gate in Division I of the Arkansas Derby today. It was a huge performance, as Charlatan ran unencumbered from chute to wire. The time of 1:48.49 was the second-fastest time at the Arkansas Derby in 25 years, especially impressive as no one was pushing Martin Garcia as his mount as they crossed the wire six lengths in front. The 1/5 favorite didn’t pay much, as chalk was across the board here.
For trainer Bob Baffert, it was the first of his daily double at Oaklawn on the day.
Here are the payouts for Division 1 race of the Arkansas Derby:
#1 Charlatan: 2.80 2.60 2.10
#11 Basin: 5.20 3.00
#4 Gouverneur Morris: 2.40
$1 Exacta: $6.80
Arkansas Derby Division II
This was the more competitive field of the two available, but Nadal was the chalk at 4/5 at post time. Joel Rosario was atop the Bob Baffert mount. Nadal is named after the 19-time tennis grand slam winner, but didn’t get away perfectly. He was sitting on Wells Bayou’s shoulder all the way down the backstretch however, and despite having to run outside down the final turn and pulled away after the turn for home.
As he pulled away down the stretch, Nadal comfortably made it back-to-back for the favorites in the Arkansas Derby, and for Bob Baffert horses.
#5 Nadal $3.80 $3.40 $3.20
#4 King Guillermo $5.20 $4.20
#1 Finnick the Fierce $13.20
$2 Exacta $21.40