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Arkansas Derby Division 1 Preview: Time for Charlatan to Shine
Charlatan (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Arkansas Derby Division 1 Preview: Time for Charlatan to Shine

Who says there won’t be a Derby on the first Saturday in May?! Thanks to Oaklawn Park, we’ll have not one, but TWO runnings of the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) this Saturday. The first division of the event will kick off with race 11 on a spectacular 14-race extravaganza. A field of 11 will go to the post for a local start time of 5:29 PM CT. 

Leading the charge in division 1 will be Charlatan, who has been sensational in two starts for trainer Bob Baffert. He was a runaway winner on debut going 6 furlongs at Santa Anita Park before stretching out to mile last time out to beat allowance horses by over 10 lengths. On Saturday, he’ll break from the rail with new jockey Martin Garcia picking up the mount. 

Todd Pletcher brings in one of his better 3-year-olds from Florida to contest this race in Gouverneur Morris, who recently was fourth in the Florida Derby (G1). Prior to that start, he was able to defeat a decent allowance field at Tampa Bay Downs. He has drawn post 4 for the race and enticed John Velazquez to fly in for the mount. 

One horse with a lot of back class in this field is Anneau d’Or, who was close to winning major graded stakes races on two separate occasions as a 2-year-old. His 3-year-old debut was a disaster, though, as he finished off the board in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). He’ll look to bounce back when he breaks from post 8 with regular rider Juan Hernandez back aboard. 

The full field from the rail out: Charlatan, My Friends Beer, Mo Mosa, Gouverneur Morris, Jungle Runner, Shooters Shoot (Scratched), Wrecking Crew, Anneau d’Or, Winning Impression, Crypto Cash, and Basin

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Top Choice 

#1 Charlatan – It’s time to see what this beast can do against stakes company. His first two victories were so incredible that he became one of the top Kentucky Derby contenders. He catches a bit of break by drawing into the easier of the two divisions, which makes him even more appealing. He looks like a single in the multi-race sequences. It’s time to let the big dog eat! 

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers 

#4 Gouverneur Morris – This colt seems to be right on the cusp of breaking through with a big time effort. After a solid 2-year-old year, he came back with a sharp allowance win at Tampa Bay Downs to kick off his 3-year-old season. He then was fourth in the Florida Derby (G1), while making a pretty big move on the turn. If he can continue to show improvement today, he can make a little bit of noise here, especially if the big favorite fails to show up with his best race. 

Exotic Plays 

#8 Anneau d’Or – We’ll see if this guy can bounce back after a terrible 3-year-old debut, which saw him finish ninth in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). They added blinkers for that race, so maybe that is what messed him up. Before that effort, he was no worse than second in three lifetime efforts, including a slower runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). He draws into the weaker division of the two races as well, which adds to the chances of him bouncing back strongly here. 

Party Crashers 

#11 Basin – It might be worth it to give this guy one last shot before writing him completely off. His 3-year-old debut in the Rebel Stakes (G2) was decent; however, there is no doubt his Oaklawn Stakes was a disappointment last time out. This will be his third race off the layoff, though, which could yield his best result. He has also drawn into the weaker of the two races, which makes him a little more appealing. 

Throw Outs 

#9 Winning Impression – Last time out, this gelding was able to cross the wire first in a tough allowance race, but was later disqualified from the win. That call was heavily controversial; however, the performance gives him a little hope for today’s event. Out of all the “throw outs” this is the one with the best chance of making an impact. 

#7 Wrecking Crew – After running third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1), this horse has been awful in his last two starts. He’ll need to improve dramatically to have a shot in this tough spot. 

#2 My Friends Beer – He has been a fairly consistent runner up to this point, hitting the board in 6 of 8 career starts. Last time out, he was third in an allowance event over this track, where he faced some nice horses. Unfortunately for him, he faces an even tougher group today. 

#3 Mo Mosa – Even though he finished third in an allowance race over this track last time out, his connections will still pressed on to this spot. He also was a distant twelfth in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) two starts back. 

#10 Crypto Cash – This horse will get back to the dirt today after running fourth in the Rushaway Stakes on the synthetic at Keeneland. Dirt seems to be his best surface, which is proven with a nice maiden special weight win at Ellis Park last summer. Still, this horse has improving to do to match up with a field like this one. 

#5 Jungle Runner – This Steve Asmussen runner had some quality races as a 2-year-old at Remington Park, including a win in the Clever Trevor Stakes. However, things have gone south since that victory, as he has not been close to winning since. 

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