Baffert Looks to Sweep Split Arkansas Derby
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Trainer Bob Baffert will look to sweep both divisions of the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on Saturday with the unbeaten runners Charlatan and Nadal. Watch and wager on all the action at Oaklawn live on TVG.
In the first division, which goes as Race 11, Baffert’s Charlatan drew the rail. The $700,000 yearling purchase by Speightstown broke his maiden at Santa Anita February 16, then followed that up with a 10 ¼-length score in allowance company March 14. The colt would not have gotten into the race had the Arkansas Derby not been split into two divisions, but he is heavily favored to score here.
Gouverneur Morris comes in off a fourth-place effort in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park last out. He has won two of his four starts for trainer Todd Pletcher including a February 14 allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs in his 2020 bow. Grade 1 placed last year, the son of Constitution could be the biggest threat to Charlatan. Anneau d’Or for trainer Blaine Wright takes the blinkers off, he was second by a head in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Widely considered the deeper of the two races is the second division, slated as Race 13. Baffert’s unbeaten Nadal won the main prep for this, the Rebel Stakes (G2) on March 14. He also won the San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita February 9, and keeps pilot Joel Rosario for this. He has won on fast and sloppy tracks, and from 6 ½-furlongs to 1 1/16-miles. Nadal was a $700,000 juvenile purchase by Blame.
Wells Bayou drew outside of the field of 10, but the 2020 Louisiana Derby (G2) winner is already a winner on this course and graded stakes placed here. He ran second in the Southwest (G3) here February 17, beaten a length by Silver Prospector, who was sixth in the Rebel. King Guillermo comes in off a nearly five-length score in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) for trainer Juan Avila. The son of Uncle Mo broke his maiden on the grass at Gulfstream Park West in November.
Storm the Court looks to make amends in this race. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) hero makes his third start since that day, after running fourth in the San Vicente behind Nadal and third in the San Felipe behind Authentic and Honor A. P. Peter Eurton trains the son of Court Vision, who was named the Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Male of 2019.
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