2020 Arkansas Derby (Divisions 1 & 2) at Oaklawn Park - Predictions and Betting Odds

If you're playing only to win, accept odds of even money or better on Charlatan.

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In what has become the most important race of the spring, Oaklawn Park has split Saturday’s 84th running of the Arkansas Derby.

Each division will carry the full 170 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, which has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 5. Originally scheduled to have a purse of $1,000,000, both divisions will now have a purse of $500,000.

Typically a final prep race for the Kentucky Derby, Oaklawn’s signature race has been the proving ground for classic winners and champions in recent years, with horses like Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Curlin, and the Triple Crown-winning American Pharoah among its most celebrated winners.

This year each division will be led by an undefeated horse from the barn of Bob Baffert. The two-time Triple Crown winner will send out the undefeated Charlatan, a spectacular winner of his only two starts in California, as the favorite of the first division.

Meanwhile, and by luck of the draw, the second division has come up with the stronger of the split.

Led by the Baffert-trained Nadal, a very game-winner of Oaklawn’s Rebel Stakes in his last start, this division of the Arkansas Derby also features the respective winners of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Louisiana Derby, Tampa Bay Derby, and Southwest Stakes.

The Arkansas Derby (G1) – Division 1

Where: Oaklawn Park

When: Saturday, May 2 – 5:29 pm Central time

How to watch: Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports and TVG

Purse: $500,000

Post Position and Odds

PPHorseOddsJockeyTrainer
1CHARLATAN1/1M GarciaB Baffert
2MY FRIENDS BEER20/1D CannonJ O’Dwyer
3MO MOSA30/1K CarmoucheM Maker
4GOUVERNEUR MORRIS9/2J VelazquezT Pletcher
5JUNGLE RUNNER30/1T BazeS Asmussen
6SHOOTERS SHOOT8/1J TalamoP Eurton
7WRECKING CREW20/1F PratP Miller
8ANNEAU D’OR6/1J J HernandezB Wright
9WINNING IMPRESSION15/1J LeparouxD Stewart
10CRYPTO CASH20/1C LanerieK McPeek
11BASIN8/1R SantanaS Asmussen
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Race Analysis

Charlatan

Has been sensational in his first two starts, absolutely dominating his competition in both a maiden and an allowance race at Santa Anita. Both were commanding and fast. So fast, in fact, that his speed figures easily eclipse the rest of this field. Questions still need to be answered as he moves into graded stakes racing, leaves Southern California, and stretches out to two-turns, but still, he has already shown enough to leave little doubt that he is up to the task.

The rail draw is not always good news, but with his early speed he should be able to move right to the lead and control the race from there

Gouverneur Morris

Has looked very good in running through his conditions, but has not quite been able to get the job done in his first two tries against the top of his class. Still the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Constitution has competed well enough in those two graded stakes tries to make him a clear second choice in here.

He would likely benefit from a bit more of an aggressive ride in here, as he tends to spin his wheels, but the nine furlongs, with speed in front of him should give him every opportunity to pounce and contest things early in the lane.

Anneau d’Or

As good as he looked in his first three races, that’s how bad he looked in only start this year when he came home a well-beaten ninth in a division of the Risen Star Stakes. Given some time and going back to blinkers off should give us a better indication of his true ability, which once put him right there in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Los Alamitos Futurity. A threat on his best, he should run an improved race this time out, but expecting him to beat the top two might be too much of a jump.

Shooters Shoot

Has done nothing but flattered Charlatan with his two recent victories. After running a no-match second behind the favorite in a maiden race, he came right back to easily break his maiden before running a huge effort to win a stakes quality allowance race at Oaklawn Park in his latest. While he has clearly improved of late, the same is expected of the favorite. Can he turn the tables this time? While not likely, he could prove very tough near the front if Charlatan is not at his best.

Basin

An impressive winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful over the Saratoga slop last summer, he has caught two more sloppy tracks to begin his sophomore season. Both came in graded stakes at Oaklawn, and while he didn’t run poorly, he was not near the winner at the finish. Drawing into the lighter division helps, and maybe he can improve on a fast track third time out, but still, anything more than a minor award would be a bit of a surprise.

Winning Impression

After not showing too much while sprinting in his first two starts, he has really improved while going two-turns in his last four. The son of Paynter comes in off a victory over the track in a salty allowance race but was taken down for interference. He still might be on the improve for trainer Dallas Stewart, and another board hitting performance would be no surprise in his stakes debut.

Wrecking Crew

A solid performer for most of his juvenile season, including a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he has failed to back that form up at all in his last two. If somehow he can revert back to when he was going good, he does rate a shot, but of recent form, he is hard to recommend on Saturday.

My Friends Beer

Had consistently good form while running against much cheaper in Maryland, and his first race since arriving at Oaklawn Park was also decent when he rallied for third in an allowance race. Now he tries much tougher horses though, and the jump in class will likely be too much for him to handle.

Crypto Cash

Is one of the more interesting longshots in the race, having performed reasonably well over turf, dirt, and a synthetic surface at Turfway Park. Back on dirt, where he was first and second in his only two tries, he might just be ready to take another step forward. Of the late runners with big odds, he appears the most likely to cash a check in the Arkansas Derby.

Mo Mosa

After turning in a dismal effort in the Tampa Bay Derby, he rallied late to get up for third in a strong allowance race at Oaklawn Park. Still, he was a long way from the top two and was likely aided by a very fast early pace. I do not like his chances to make a similar type of move against this bunch.

Jungle Runner – After winning two straight last year at Remington Park, he moved up in class for trainer Steve Asmussen and has been well beaten in three straight. Now facing his toughest test to date, it’s hard to see how he will outrun his recent form.

Here are my plays ($40 in total)

$1 Superfecta part wheel – Charlatan over Gouverneur Morris over Anneau d’Or, Shooters Shoot, Basin, Winning Impression, Crypto Cash over Anneau d’Or, Shooters Shoot, Basin, Winning Impression, Crypto Cash = $20

$1 Superfecta part wheel – Charlatan over Anneau d’Or, Shooters Shoot, Basin, Winning Impression, Crypto Cash over Gouverneur Morris over Anneau d’Or, Shooters Shoot, Basin, Winning Impression, Crypto Cash = $20

If you’re playing only to win, accept odds of even money or better on Charlatan. If he’s lower than that, play the second most likely winner of the race, Gouverneur Morris.

Bet on the 2020 Arkansas Derby

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The Arkansas Derby (G1) – Division 2

Where: Oaklawn Park

When: Saturday, May 2 – 6:43 pm Central time

How to watch: Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports and TVG

Purse: $500,000

Post Positions and Odds

PPHorseOddsJockeyTrainer
1FINNICK THE FIERCE15/1M GarciaR Hernandez
2SARATOGIAN50/1J TalamoR Brisset
3STORM THE COURT6/1F PratP Eurton
4KING GUIlLERMO3/1S CamachoJ C Avila
5NADAL5/2J RosarioB Baffert
6CODE RUNNER50/1S ElliotS Asmussen
7SILVER PROSPECTOR10/1R SantanaS Asmussen
8FAST ENOUGH12/1T BazeR Becerra
9TAISHAN15/1D CohenR Baltas
10FARMINGTON ROAD12/1J CastellanoT Pletcher
11WELLS BAYOU7/2F GerouxB Cox
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Race Analysis

Nadal

Undefeated in three starts for trainer Bob Baffert, the son of Blame has proven to have the ability to fight off his competition late. He’ll need that quality on Saturday, as both the second and third choices in here also possess quality early speed. Will this be the time when he sits just off the pace?

It’s possible, as he looks like a horse who should appreciate the distance, and who has something in reserve late. Either way, he looks like the class of the race and a very deserving favorite, despite drawing the tougher of the two divisions.

King Guillermo

Pulled off a major upset with a decisive and eye-catching victory last time in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. It’s been eight weeks since that big victory and it remains to be seen whether he can repeat that effort against even stronger competition. In both his turf form and in the Tampa Bay Derby, he showed plenty of early foot.

That might make things tough in this spot with the quality speed he’ll see while going nine furlongs for the first time. Everything considered I will need to see another big effort before I am a true believer in King Guillermo.

Wells Bayou

An improving and handsome son of Lookin at Lucky, he has done nothing wrong for trainer Brad Cox in three starts in 2020. Most recently, he proved he could handle the distance when going all the way in the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby.

It was a big win, but one aided by the lack of early pressure he faced that afternoon. He’s certainly done enough to be considered one of the leaders of this crop so far, but expecting the same result with far more pace pressure this time may be asking a bit too much.

Storm the Court

The 2-year-old Champion of 2019 on the strength of his upset win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he’s become a bit of the forgotten horse this year. Still, in his two losses since, he’s run against strong company out in California, while not embarrassing himself.  He should appreciate his first try at nine furlongs and has been brought along patiently this year in an effort to be peaking on the first Saturday in May. He’ll need to work out a good trip behind the favored speed, but as no better than the fourth choice, he looks to offer solid value on Saturday.

Silver Prospector

The winner of two graded stakes in his last four races, disappointed when last seen finishing well behind Nadal in the Rebel. Having said that, he has bounced back before and looks like a good candidate to get first run on the leaders, while ahead of the deep closers. He’s a bit inconsistent, but the odds should be right this time on a horse who has a stakes win over the track

Farmington Road

Steps up in class a little for trainer Todd Pletcher after running a fast-finishing second behind Mr. Big News in the recent prep, the Oaklawn Stakes. He lacks any early speed, but a contested early pace and the nine furlongs of the Arkansas Derby should suit him perfectly. If top rider Javier Castellano can make his patented late run just a little bit earlier than he did in his first try over the track, the improving son of Quality Road should make his presence felt in the final furlong.

Finnick the Fierce

A consistent rallier, his best result came late last year when he came running late to finish second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He has yet to cross the wire first in three starts this year but has kept solid company and was bothered in his last race. Considering the expected strong pace here, and the stretch out to nine furlongs, he rates a real shot to get into the picture at big odds.

Taishan

A good looking son of Twirling Candy, he had the perfect race set up last time in the Oaklawn Stakes, yet had no answers for the top two late. It only gets tougher this time. It appears as though he is proving to be a cut below the best of this crop.

Code Runner

Comes off a sharp allowance win in his last, but that came against much cheaper horses at Sam Houston Park. He’s had plenty of chances before and just looks like a cut below the competition he will face on Saturday.

Saratogian

After a game win sprinting at Tampa Bay Downs in his career debut, he was dismissed bettors in a tough allowance race at Gulfstream Park. His poor result in that one gives no reason to expect him to have much chance in the Arkansas Derby

Fast Enough

Will be scratched.

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$4 Exacta  Box -Nadal, Farmington Way and Storm the Court  = $24

$3 Exacta  Box – Nadal, Farmington Way and Silver Prospector = $18

$3 Exacta  Box – Nadal, Farmington Way and Finnick the Fierce = $18

If you’re playing only to win, use the most likely winner, Nadal, and my longshot play, Farmington Road.

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