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Arkansas Derby Preview: Pivotal Race for Concert Tour
Concert Tour (Credit: Coady Photography)

Arkansas Derby Preview: Pivotal Race for Concert Tour

HOT SPRINGS, AR – The final Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race of the 2021 season is finally upon us in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, which has been one of the top producers of Triple Crown race winners over the last 20 years.

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The race is more important than ever this year, as the Kentucky Derby scene looks wide open. This is also the last chance for all but one of these horses to earn enough points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate. That urgency makes this special contest that much more entertaining.

The undefeated Concert Tour is certainly the standout of this field. After winning his first 2 starts in California, the Bob Baffert trainee shipped to Oaklawn Park and dominated his rivals for an easy Rebel Stakes (G2) victory. That win catapulted him to the top of many Kentucky Derby lists, but he still has more to prove in this spot. He’ll break from post 5 with Joel Rosario back aboard.

Baffert also sends Hozier back to Oaklawn Park after he ran second to Concert Tour in the Rebel. He broke his maiden impressively 2 starts back before adding his name to the Derby mix. Martin Garcia will have the mount on Hozier, breaking from post 3.

The Rebel’s post time favorite Caddo River didn’t have things go his way in that spot, finishing off the board. Trainer Brad Cox shows confidence wheeling him right back for another try. We know the colt has talent; 2 starts back, he dominated rivals in the Smarty Jones Stakes. Florent Geroux will be back in the irons breaking from post 2.

“We’ll see how things go,” Cox said. “We’re going to try and be a little bit more involved early – more aggressive, I think, if we can. That’s really the tactics we’re going to take into the race. We’ll see if that works any different.”

The full field from the rail out: Super Stock, Caddo River, Hozier, Get Her Number, Concert Tour, and Last Samurai.

Oaklawn Picks

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Top Choice

#5 Concert Tour – Simply put, he should destroy this field. He made short work of most of these horses in the Rebel while never getting out of first gear, and this will be his second race around two turns, so there’s a chance that we could see even more improvement from him here. As long as he shows up with a normal effort, he’ll get the job done here on his way to potentially being the favorite on the first Saturday in May.

“Concert Tour’s very fast,” Baffert said. “He’s quick, really fast. I think the break is important, how you leave there. You never know what’s going to happen. You don’t know what the strategy’s going to be. I just worry about my own horses. If (Caddo River) goes, (Rosario) will just ride his own horse and see what he does.”

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers

None – It’s hard to see anyone beating the heavy favorite in this spot.

Exotic Plays

#4 Get Her Number – We should see some improvement after a lackluster race off the bench last time out in the Rebel. He had a bit of traffic trouble in the lane as well, which added to his sluggish late move. The Peter Miller trainee should run better here and is a decent alternative to the heavy favorite.

“He needed the (Rebe) and he’s coming into the race well, so I’m looking forward to it,” Miller said. “I think he’s going to run a big race.”

#3 Hozier – Leave it to Baffert to get this horse to run second at a huge price in the Rebel. Now, will he get him to show up with that type of effort again? He won’t be a threat to his stablemate, but he can definitely hit the board again.

Party Crashers

#2 Caddo River – He was the post time favorite for the Rebel, but ran too bad to believe, coming up empty down the stretch and finishing off the board. You have to think he’s better than what he showed in that race, though, and if the price is right, then he’s worth giving another shot. However, it’s hard to have a lot of confidence in him until we see him rebound from that poor effort.

Throw Outs

#1 Super Stock – He ran well better than expected in the Rebel, finishing fourth, but he was no threat to Concert Tour in that spot. It’s hard to see him being able to turn the tables here, though he can compete with the rest of this group.

#6 Last Samurai – The only horse in this race who doesn’t exit the Rebel insteads exits a fifth-place effort in the Southwest Stakes (G3), where he was no threat to eventual winner Essential Quality. Expect more of the same.

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