It’s Derby Day in America on May 2, kind of. The Arkansas Derby is planned on the first Saturday of May, a day that has been reserved for the Kentucky Derby since 1945. The 146th Kentucky Derby has been moved to September 5, 2020, and the Arkansas Derby will step up and fill-in on the first Saturday in May. Organizers of the Kentucky Derby did it with the belief in mind that they can delay the Derby and have spectators on Labor Day Weekend.
It’s no guarantee that they will be able to have fans. A Kentucky Derby without fans would be way different than what we’re accustomed to. NBC would not like broadcasting a Kentucky Derby with no fans. The Virtual Kentucky Derby will be on NBC today, which features 13 Triple Crown winners. As far as the 146th Kentucky Derby is concerned, delaying it to October might be the only Plan C if Labor Day Weekend doesn’t work.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby has been altered as well. Five races are currently TBD, including the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, and Blue Grass which are all worth 100 points to the winner. The winner of the Arkansas Derby will get 100 points, while 2nd still receives a nice prize of 40 points. The extra time on their hands to schedule those races is workable now that the Kentucky Derby is in September.
Bob Baffert will be the center of attention at the Arkansas Derby today. That’s a given. Any big event in the US, Baffert usually has a trainee there ready to thrive. Charlatan is a strong horse, but there are still some doubts that he has the ability to beat Tiz the Law. Tiz the Law leads the betting board for the Kentucky Derby. Baffert will also have Nadal entered into the Arkansas Derby II in Race 13.
Watch what happens if Charlatan puts on a show today, though. If you like Charlatan, and believe he’s winning the Arkansas Derby today, it’d be best to get your Kentucky Derby bet in now. The same could happen to Nadal, who is racing in Race 13 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday. This is the II portion of the Arkansas Derby, which carries a $500,000 purse as well. Let’s see what the Arkansas Derby has in store for us and try to find a winner. Get our free Arkansas Derby pick for May 2, 2020 below.
Race 11 – Arkansas Derby I
Post Time: 5:29 p.m. CST
Distance: 1 1/8 Miles
The Arkansas Derby awards the winning team 100 points, which is enough to get an automatic trip to the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby in September. Along with the 100 points, there is a whopping $500,000 purse up for grabs. However, that’s half of what was originally going to be offered. A million was expected, but they are splitting the Arkansas Derby into two races this year, with a total of a million between the two events.
In any event, they’re still happy to be racing, especially the horsemen. Baffert has eyes set on a win in the Arkansas Derby today. He sends out the much discussed about Charlatan for Race 11. Charlatan will have some company, but is expected to perform like a well oiled machine on Saturday. Gouveneur Morris, who is currently +3300 to win the Kentucky Derby, will likely be involved in this race.
Gouveneur Morris is racing for the first time since finishing 4th in the Florida Derby. He just didn’t have it in him to compete with Tiz the Law. Tiz the Law won comfortably by 4 ¼ lengths, with Gouveneur Morris behind Ete Indian and Shivaree. He has wins on February 14 and in his debut on September 2, 2019 at Saratoga.
In the Saratoga race, Gouveneur Morris won in a blowout by 9 lengths to put a stamp on his Kentucky Derby claim. He followed that up with a strong performance on October 5, 2019, though wasn’t good enough to top Maxfield in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. Gouveneur Morris responded with a win on February 14 to grab a 1 ¼ lengths win over Untitled. Don’t ignore Gouveneur Morris here despite faltering in the Florida Derby.
For an upset selection, Basin from the No. 11 post might be your best option. Basin has 2 wins in 5 events, though he didn’t look as strong in his previous two outings. He finished 3rd in the Rebel Stakes and 4th in the Oaklawn Stakes in a recent performance on April 11. The winning efforts for Basin came on July 21, 2019 and September 2, 2019 in the Runhappy Hopeful Stakes.
Charlatan is the horse to beat in this field, though. The 2-year-old has raced in just two events, both at Santa Anita Park and won easily in both. Charlatan won by 5 ¾ lengths on February 16, and then slept walk to a win on March 14 by 10 ¼ lengths. He could have stopped and had a drink before proceeding and still would have won.
I backed Charlatan in that race and was counting my money before the end. 1st out of the gate and cleared his competition with great ease. Charlatan will have to work a little harder on Saturday, but should still clear the competition. Baffert has been careful not to enter him into too many races. He’s going to be fresh and likely ready to roll. Even money on Charlatan has to be the play in the Arkansas Derby.
Race 13 – Arkansas Derby II
Post Time: 6:43 p.m. CST
Distance:1 1/8 Miles
Another $500,000 is being offered in the Arkansas Derby II. Note that 100 points goes to the winners of each race, so that is not split. Former Detroit Tiger, and current race horse owner, Victor Martinez, has already punched his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with King Guillermo. King Guillermo has a win in 2 of 4 career races, with a win in the South Tampa Bay Derby his ticket to the Kentucky Derby. He won as a 49/1 underdog in a statement win to earn 50 points and a ticket to Churchill Downs.
Martinez and company originally intended on winning that race and going directly to the Kentucky Derby. However, that plan has changed, with Covid-19 playing a role in that obvious decision. King Guillermo won 4 ¾ lengths in a race that wasn’t in question in the homestretch. Impressive win for a horse that no one believed in. He also has a win on November 2, 2019 by 6 ¼ lengths over Jolting Joe. King Guillermo wasn’t a 49/1 underdog in that race, but nor was he a favorite. He’s starting to get some attention, though, and is one of the leading candidates to win the Arkansas Derby II on Saturday.
Wells Bayou won as a 8/1 underdog on March 21 in the Louisiana Derby. He’ll be going to the Kentucky Derby as well. Wells Bayou is a winner in 3 of 5 races, and was an upset selection of ours in the Louisiana Derby. The way I see it, Wells Bayou is the second most dangerous horse in Race 13. King Guillermo keeps on powering on and is likely going to lurk for another win today, but he hasn’t been exposed to talent like Wells Bayou and Nadal thus far.
With Tiz the Law, Authentic, and Charlatan putting on impressive performances, Nadal has sort of gone to the wayside. That’s not the smart thing to do, because Nadal has the potential to surprise and is strong as ever. After recording a hat-trick in the first three starts of his career, Nadal can do more damage in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday.
Nadal won at Santa Anita Park on January 19 and February 9 in the San Vicente Stakes over Ginobli by ¾ lengths. In his most recent entry, Nadal dispatched the field in the Rebel Stakes on March 14 for another ¾ length win. He was ahead by the ¼ pole and held strong. It’s shaping up to be a Bob Baffert day in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday in Hot Springs. Look for Nadal to fourpeat with a 4-0 start to his career.