Could Silver Dust or Untrapped Surprise in the Arkansas Derby?
The final Kentucky Derby prep race is set for Saturday at Oaklawn Park, as the $1 million Arkansas Derby could provide another entrant to the Run for the Roses on May 5. The winner of the 1 1/8 mile race will receive 100 points to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby field, and the runner-up will earn 40 points and have a great chance to get to Churchill Downs for the Derby as well.
Classic Empire is the 8/5 favorite in the Arkansas Derby, and last year’s 2-year-old champion is currently on the derby points bubble and needs a top-4 finish to get to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. While Classic Empire’s class cannot be denied, his trainer Mark Casse can’t feel quite as confident in his Pioneer of the Nile colt with just one race this year finishing 3rd in the Holy Bull. A trio of solid 4 and 5 furlong works may get Classic Empire the form needed to finish in the money against this less than stellar Arkansas Derby field, but we’re not betting Classic Empire to win but will include him in some exacta, trifecta and exotic wagers.
We’re also throwing out the 2nd favorite Malagacy (2-1), who is likely to have a wide trip breaking from the far outside post (12).
Steve Asmussen-trained Untrapped (6-1) has finished in the money in all five of his starts (1-3-1), including three graded stakes and Derby prep races this year. So he’s faced some solid competition and makes his second straight start at Oaklawn following a 3rd place finish in the Rebel (G2) March 18. Malagacy won that day, and Untrapped missed 2nd by a nose. But Untrapped was in traffic early in that race, and showed some good closing speed making up three lengths on the winner from the ¾ pole. Untrapped needs at least a 4th place finish to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Petrov (12-1) is also back for the Arkansas Derby after finishing a nose behind Untrapped in 4th place in the Rebel. The galloping gray has run three stakes races at Oaklawn this year and finished 2nd, 2nd and 4th. He’ll need to win or finish 2nd here if he wants to be in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Jose Ortiz, Jr. will have him running near the lead chasing after Rockin Rudy (12-1), and he’ll need to hold up around the far turn and show enough speed to carry out the added 1/16 mile in the Arkansas Derby. He was 9/5 in the Smarty Jones Stakes and less
than 9-1 in both the Southwest and Rebel Stakes, so value seekers may look to profit on Petrov.
Corey Lanerie is aboard a long shot of interest in Silver Dust (20-1), who finished a distance 4th in the Southwest after being covered up in the stretch. He went off at long odds in the Rebel and broke last of 11. Even steadied, he managed to finish 5th less than 3 ½ lengths behind the winner. Silver Dust is a son of Tapit and has posted a pair of sparkling workouts the past two weeks since the Rebel, including a 5 furlong bullet breeze in :59.40 (best of 18). He’s likely sitting on a solid race and adds blinkers, but he’ll have to get the gold (1st) to make the Kentucky Derby field, and could possibly sneak in with a silver finish (2nd). Not out of the question for Silver Dust to be coming late off a faster pace, and pull an Irap (won the Blue Grass Stakes at 31-1 odds).
Conquest Mo Money (15-1) is a New York-bred son of Uncle Mo who has been running in smaller stakes races in New Mexico. But he’s won 3 of 4 and finished 2nd in the recent Sunland Derby. He has a versatile running style and is an interesting and overlooked entry. While the travel and new track against stronger runners says it will be tough to win, he did show a good closing kick in the Sunland Derby at this same 1 1/8 mile distance.
The Arkansas Derby is race 11 of closing day April 15 at Oaklawn Park with an estimated post time of 6:18 p.m. local Central standard time. Check out Friday’s Fantasy Stakes for fillies as they stride for a spot in the Kentucky Oaks.
Post position, horse, trainer, jockey, odds
- Rockin Rudy, Doug O’Neill, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1
- Classic Empire, Mark Casse, Julien Leparoux, 8-5
- Silver Dust, Randy Morse, Corey Lanerie, 20-1
- Petrov, Ron Moquett, Ricardo Santana Jr., 12-1
- Grandpa’s Dream, Chris Hartman, Alex Canchari, 30-1
- Lookin At Lee, Steve Asmussen, Luis Contreras, 15-1
- Sonneteer, Keith Desormeaux, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1
- Rowdy The Warrior, Donnie Von Hemel, Luis Quinonez, 30-1
- Untrapped, Steve Asmussen, Mike Smith, 6-1
- One Dreamy Dude, Jack Van Berg, Geovanni Franco, 50-1
- Conquest Mo Money, Miguel Hernandez, Jorge Carreno, 15-1
- Malagacy, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 2-1