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HOT SPRINGS, AR – In an unprecedented move, Oaklawn Park officials split its historic Arkansas Derby (G1) into two divisions, each featuring 11 male 3-year-olds chasing after $500,000 purses and 170 points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) in September.
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced several major tracks to temporarily cease racing operations and the Kentucky Derby to be postponed four months down the road, several of the nation’s top 3-year-olds had to reroute to Hot Springs in search of prize money and Derby cred. Each division of the Arkansas Derby will award 100 points to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third, and 10 to fourth.
“Because of our national crisis, we and the entire world of sports are in uncharted waters requiring unprecedented actions,” said Oaklawn Park President Louis Cella. “We’re trying to make the best of a very, very difficult situation. On the one hand, it is the worst of times to be racing without fans in our grandstand. On the other, we have a large number of exceptional three-year-olds wanting to run in our Arkansas Derby. We simply did not want to see anyone lose that opportunity.”
Division 1 is headlined by the Bob Baffert-trained #1 Charlatan. Though he is lightly raced, he has won both career starts by a combined 16 lengths. The son of Speightstown is considered one of the top prospects for the Derby and attracted Martin Garcia to ride.
Here is the full field for Division 1 of Saturday’s Arkansas Derby:
Two races later on Saturday’s card, a second set of 11 sophomores will compete in Division 2 of the Arkansas Derby. As far as graded stakes winners go, this is the much classier edition of the two races.
Along with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion and Eclipse Award-winning 2 Year Old Champion Colt #3 Storm the Court, this race features the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) upset winner #4 King Guillermo, the San Vicente Stakes (G2) and Rebel Stakes (G2) victor #5 Nadal, the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Southwest Stakes (G3) conqueror #7 Silver Prospector, the California Cup Derby hero #8 Fast Enough, and the Louisiana Derby (G2) vanquisher #11 Wells Bayou.
Here is the full field for Division 2 of Saturday’s Arkansas Derby:
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