Division 2 of this Saturday’s $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) has come up as the stronger of the two events, with a total of five graded stakes winners in the field of 11. The contest will go off as race 13 on a 14-race card, which also features the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and the annual Trail’s End Starter Stakes. Local post time for Division 2 of the Arkansas Derby is 6:43 PM CT.
The Bob Baffert-trained Nadal comes back to Hot Springs after taking home the Rebel Stakes (G2) over this track last time out. The colt is perfect in three starts so far in his career, as he also won the San Vicente Stakes (G2) two back at Santa Anita Park. Jockey Joel Rosario will be aboard the big favorite for the third straight race when he breaks from post 5.
Nadal’s biggest challenger could be Wells Bayou, who was last seen wining the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. His front-running style was also put to the test two races back in the Southwest Stakes (G2), where he finished second to fellow competitor Silver Prospector. He draws the far outside post of 11 and gets Florent Geroux back aboard.
The most intriguing horse in this race could be King Guillermo, the 49/1 upset winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). He won that race like an even-money shot would, powering home after stalking the early pace. He will be out to prove that his effort was no fluke when he breask from post 4 with Samy Camacho riding.
The full field from the rail out: Finnick the Fierce, Saratogian, Storm the Court, King Guillermo, Nadal, Code Runner, Silver Prospector, Fast Enough (Scratched), Taishan, Farmington Road, and Wells Bayou.
#7 Silver Prospector – Let’s swing for the fences here with Silver Prospector, who has proven to be a very good horse when he shows up with this best race. He as the perfect style for this spot, as he can sit off the pace and pounce at the right moment. He has beaten heavy-weights like Tiz the Law and Wells Bayou, so you know he has the class to get it done here. The hope is he can sit the perfect trip, stalking what should be a fast pace, before wearing down the leaders late. At 10/1, he’s worth a shot and can run with this group if he brings his best race.
Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers
#5 Nadal – It was hard to go against Nadal, who proved to be ultra-game in his Rebel Stakes (G2) win last time out. The pace dynamics of this race look challenging, though, while he also must stretch out in distance even further for today’s event. The horse must learn to slow down during the early portion of the race, or eventually he will get beat, which is why I’m willing to go against him for the win here. He is still one you must play in your exotic wagers, but at a short price, let’s try to get him beat for the top prize.
#11 Wells Bayou – After winning the Louisiana Derby (G2) last time out, this horse shot up the Kentucky Derby rankings, especially since he went wire to wire going the Preakness distance of a 1 3/16 miles. The horse also ran pretty well two starts back at Oaklawn Park, running second in the Southwest Stakes (G2), which was his first try against stakes company. The pace of this race is going to be the important factor. Can he stick around if the pace is quicker for him in this spot?
#4 King Guillermo – This is an all-or-nothing horse. His 49/1 upset win in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) was ultra-impressive, as he stalked the pace early, and ran away from the competition late. There is skepticism that the race could have been a fluke, but I do not want this horse beating me again. He can play a factor if he shows up with a similar effort.
#10 Farmington Road – He seems to be the classic come-from-behind horse who runs up and hits the board in these types of races. The pace should set up well for him in this race as well, which is going to make him appealing to many players. I’m not confident in his ability to win; however, he will come running in the end.
#3 Storm the Court – It sort of seems like it’s now or never for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner. It’s not like he’s been bad in 2020; however, we haven’t seen enough to take him seriously in terms of being a top Kentucky Derby contender. The longer distance of this race should suit him pretty well, though, which is a positive. If he had drawn into division 1 he would be a lot more interesting, but there is no doubt this is the tougher of the two divisions.
#9 Taishan – This horse has shown all sorts of talent at times against horses at the lower levels. He has struggled against stakes competition, though, which has me a bit worried for him in this spot. We’ll see if he can prove his talents against this caliber of field.
#1 Finnick the Fierce – He was able to get back to the winners circle last time out against allowance foes; however, it was via disqualification. This horse has faced several good horses throughout his career, so he won’t be intimidated by the competition. Still, he needs to show improvement if he stands a chance at making a big impact.
#6 Code Runner – Asmussen will take a shot with this runner after a nice win at Sam Houston last time out. However, we all know this is a major step up from that event.
#2 Saratogian – He seems to be entered in this race just to make sure it splits into two divisions and ensured that Charlatan – owned by the same conglomerate as Saratogian – could draw into a field. He has zero shot to make an impact in this tough spot.