Who Wins The Arkansas Derby ?

Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million dollar Arkansas Derby will be the 33rd official prep race on the road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby as well as the final one at Oaklawn Park.

The 1 1/8-mile race attracted a field of eleven 3-year-olds who will compete for the 100-40-30-20-10 points that go to the top five eligible finishers.

Here is a look at the entrants.

1. BOURBON BASH [ML 15-1] Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez. The most experienced horse in the field, with nine starts that go back to Saratoga where he broke his Maiden by eight lengths in his second start. From there he ran in a series of Stakes races with two top three finishes. Most recently, he stretched out in distance and finished 5th in the Rebel (G2) on a sloppy track. 

2. INTERLOCK EMPIRE [ML 20-1] Trainer: Ken McPeek. Jockey: David Cabrera. Needed four starts to get his first Victory, which he did just three weeks ago when he rallied from 10th and drew off to Win by five lengths going a mile at odds of 17-1. This spot seems a bit ambitious.

3. HARLOCAP [ML 15-1] Trainer: Steven Asmussen. Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Began his career in California in the Bob Baffert barn, where he broke his Maiden in his third start in January at Santa Anita. At that point he was transferred to Asmussen to become eligible for Kentucky Derby points races. In the Risen Star (G2) he had the lead in the early going but faded to 6th. 

4. TWO EAGLES RIVER [ML 10-1] Trainer: Chris Hartman. Jockey: Nik Juarez. Was a debut Winner in October at Churchill Downs when he Won a five-furlong sprint. He hit the board in all five of his starts, which included a Stakes race at Oaklawn Park and an Allowance most recently going a mile on the front end in February. The last three races were with Lasix, which cannot be used on the Derby trail. 

5. AIRTIME [ML 15-1] Trainer: Robertino Diodoro. Jockey: Cristian Torres. Won his second race in a $50,000 Maiden claimer in September at Churchill. He was 3rd in an Allowance at Horseshoe Indianapolis after pressing the pace going a mile. AIRTIME was claimed for $50,000 in his first start of 2023, which he Won by 10 lengths. He then Won his first start for his new barn in an Allowance at Oaklawn after overcoming traffic, which caused him to come from off the pace. 

6. ANGEL OF EMPIRE [ML 9-2] Trainer: Brad Cox. Jockey: Flavien Prat. He’s already earned enough points to race in the Run for the Roses after running 2nd in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn and then Winning the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds with a closing move against that field of 14. His only loss in four starts was a turf race at Kentucky Downs.  

7. ROCKET CAN [ML 4-1] Trainer: Bill Mott. Jockey: Junior Alvarado. Did not show much in his first two starts at Saratoga although he was well bet in both. At Churchill he was able to get his Maiden Victory going long on a sloppy track. He ended his 2-year-old campaign with a 2nd in an Allowance. ROCKET CAN went right to the Derby trail in 2023, Winning the Holy Bull (G3) and then finishing 2nd in the Fountain of Youth (G2) behind the division leader FORTE. He too has enough points to start in the Kentucky Derby

8. REINCARNATE [ML 5-2] Trainer: Tim Yakteen. Jockey: John Velazquez. Made his first five starts for Baffert. He was 2nd in his first three races and got to the Winner’s Circle at Del Mar in the final start of his juvenile campaign. He Won a Derby prep in the Sham (G3) but was ineligible for the points. In the Rebel Stakes, he broke poorly and had to check later in the race yet still finished 3rd to earn Derby points. 

9. KING RUSSELL [ML 30-1] Trainer: Ron Moquett. Jockey: Rafael Bejarano. Needed five starts to beat a Maiden special weight field, which he did at Oaklawn in February when he rallied through traffic to Win by a neck. This is his first try in a Stakes race and will have to come without race day Lasix. 

10. RED ROUTE ONE [ML 3-1] Trainer: Steve Asmussen. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. He will get blinkers for the first time after getting far behind in the early going of his last two starts in Derby prep races when he was still able to finish 2nd. He may already have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby field, so this is a good time to try the blinkers. 

11. KOLOMIO [ML 30-1] Trainer: Keith Desormeaux. Jockey: James Graham. This New York-bred gelding has made all six of his starts in California, the last four on the grass. He was claimed for $50,000 in his latest start when he was 3rd by a neck and returns on the Derby trail for new trainer-Desormeaux.  Toss.

The Arkansas Derby is listed as race 12 on a card of 13 with a scheduled Post Time 7:50 p.m. EDT.

The weather forecast in Hot Springs for Saturday is sunny, 70 degrees, and 0% chance of rain.

Best of luck with all your plays on Saturday.

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