Arkansas Derby Preview and Picks
Arkansas Derby is Final Major Kentucky Derby Prep
The Kentucky Derby trail comes to an end Saturday, as the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) is the final 100-40-20-10 point prep race of the season. The Arkansas Derby has been run at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas since 1936 and contested at 9 furlongs (1 1/8 miles) every year (except 1945). Three Arkansas Derby winners have gone on to win the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, with the most recent Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015). Smarty Jones (2014) was also an Arkansas Derby – Kentucky Derby double winner. Three runner-up colts in the Arkansas Derby have gone on to with the Kentucky Derby with the most recent Super Saver (2010).
So will one of the 2018 Arkansas Derby runners make history with a Derby double-sweep? The four top contenders in the nine horse field at Oaklawn are Magnum Moon (8-5), Solomini (2-1), Quip (9-2) and Combatant (6-1). Magnum Moon is 3-for-3 and comes from the hottest barn on the circuit from trainer Todd Pletcher. Magnum Moon won the Rebel Stakes (G2) over this track last month in convincing fashion, getting clear in the stretch and beating the favorite Solomini by 3 ½ lengths with a rallying Combatant another head behind in third. Magnum Moon earned 50 Derby qualifying points and has already secured his spot for the May 5 Kentucky Derby.
Solomini was steadied at that top of the lane in that Rebel runner-up finish, but came on late when Combatant ran up beside him. Solomini enters the Arkansas Derby with 34 points, meaning that trainer Bob Baffert needs him to get a share of the top-4 spots to earn his ticket to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Steve Asmussen needs Combatant to finish in the money as he sits with 22 Derby points.
Quip (50) has also qualified for the Kentucky Derby after winning the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at 19-1 odds last month over runner-up Flameaway, who won the recent Blue Grass Stakes, and Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso; two other solid Derby contenders next month at Churchill Downs. Quip breaks from near the outside next to #9 Combatant, but look for jockey Florent Geroux to get Quip to the front. A contested pace may allow Combatant to make a late run again, and he’s the only horse in the field that has run in all the preps at Oaklawn, finishing 2nd in the Smarty Jones and Southwest Stakes before a close 3rd in the Rebel.
Asmussen also has two other colts running in the Arkansas Derby. Dream Baby Dream (15-1) was 2nd in the Sunland Derby last month in his graded stakes debut and his eighth start. But the potential outsider to consider is Tenfold (10-1) with Victor Espinoza aboard. Tenfold is 2-for-2, both wins this year at Oaklawn. He steps up in his first stakes race, but this son of Curlin can certainly get the distance and may push Quip hard on the front end, and be another surprise runner on the Derby trail.
But Magnum Moon is going to be tough, looking like he wants the added ground and has the dangerous combination of tactical speed and a sharp late kick. He also enters having posted three straight bullet works in South Florida over the past month in the mornings. He’s the favorite, working the best and looks best.
Betting the Arkansas Derby, Sat., April 7 with post time at 7:18 p.m. ET.
$20 Magnum Moon win and place ($40)
$4 Exacta Magnum Moon with Tenfold, Quip and Combatant ($12)
$2 Exacta Tenfold, Quip and Combatant with Magnum Moon ($6)
50 cent trifecta Magnum Moon with Tenfold, Quip, Combatant, Solomini with Tenfold, Quip, Combatant, Solomini ($6)
Update and Results following Arkansas Derby
Magnum Moon wins by 4 lengths with Quip 2nd and Solomini 3rd. Combatant was 4th and Tenfold 5th.
Magnum Moon returned $36 on $20 win wager and $28 on $20 place bet.
$1 Exacta returned $9.40 x 4 = $37.60
.50 cent Trifecta returned $13.60
Total wagered $62. Total Won $117.20