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Oaklawn Park beckons bettors for a signature Saturday of championship horse racing.

The 13-race card contains a summit of top fillies who compete in the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes and top Kentucky Derby prospects in the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby.

Gamblers can access the card via FanDuel TV and it is Oaklawn’s finest of the season.

A post time of 7:50 p.m. ET awaits the 1 1–8-mile Arkansas Derby, which gives the public a chance to evaluate several horses competing in their second big race.

Earlier efforts put them here and the major prep races like this will stamp them as a Run for the Roses contender on May 6.

American Pharoah captured the Arkansas Derby en route to becoming racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years in 2015. Cyberknife won this race last year.

2023 Arkansas Derby Field

Here is the field for Saturday’s Arkansas Derby field, including post positions, morning-line odds, jockeys, and trainers.

PPEntryML OddsJockey Trainer
1Bourbon Bash15-1Reylu GutierrezD. Wayne Lukas
2Interlock Empire20-1David CabreraKen McPeek
3Harlocap15-1Ricardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen
4Two Eagles River10-1Nik JuarezChris Hartman
5Airtime15-1Robertino DiodoroRandy Howg
6Angel of Empire9-2Flavien PratBrad Cox
7Rocket Can4-1Junior AlvaradoBill Mott
8Reincarnate5-2John VelazquezTim Yakteen
9King Russell30-1Rafael BejaranoRon Moquett
10Red Route One3-1Tyler GaffalioneSteve Asmussen
11Kolomio30-1James GrahamKeith Desormeaux

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Saturday’s Oaklawn Park Schedule

The Arkansas Derby highlights the industry’s top card, as Oaklawn pays out an industry-leading total of just over $3.5 million in purses.

Bettors have big fields and numerous showcases including, late on the program:

  • The $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes
  • The $600,000 Fantasy Stakes
  • The $1.25 million Arkansas Derby

Arkansas Derby Contenders and Overview

The $1 million Rebel Stakes is the most prominent race feeding into this one.

That makes a fascinating storyline regarding Red Route One, who just missed in that 1 1–16-mile race. He closed like a freight train to circle the entire field, all except for the winner Confidence Game.

That effort was in the slop. Based on the weather forecast, he should have a clear track here and the question becomes whether a fast track is to his disadvantage. 

He spots the field numerous lengths and loves to come from dead last to first in one gigantic run. Think Zenyatta or from an earlier era Silky Sullivan (who once came from more than 41 lengths back to win a race).

Bettors will find out in this event whether he can be close to the pace on a fast track and deliver. If he does that here, Red Route One will be one of the Kentucky Derby favorites.

Reincarnate was closing swiftly too and got third in the Rebel. Like Red Route One, he has an extra 16th of a mile to work with at this distance.

Angel of Empire captured the Risen Star Stakes and ought to be heavily played. He will gain a lot of betting respect off that effort.

Arkansas Derby: Contenders & Overview of the Field for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Prep Race
Jockey Junior Alvarado (here aboard Art Collector) rides Rocket Can in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Rocket Can has a win in the Holy Bull and a second in the Fountain of Youth, although it was a distant second to likely Derby chalk Forte. Based on class, however, he is one of the horses who can hit the board here.

That’s a summary of the major contenders. They seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, which hopes to turn the tables.

Bourbon Bash was a handful of lengths behind Red Route One. Two Eagles River has run just a bit ahead of Bourbon Bash in recent efforts and makes his stakes debut.

Interlock Empire just broke his maiden and takes a big shot.

Harlocap may be a speed factor. Ran a strong mile in the Risen Star Stakes but faded.

Airtime and King Russell are trying to catch lightning in a bottle from the maiden and allowance optional claiming ranks. Kolomio has been in slightly higher races than them, but not equal to the top contenders.

Fantasy Stakes Contenders and Overview

This is primarily a rematch of the Honeybee Stakes, conducted in the slop at Oaklawn in February.

What bettors have to know: Wet Paint is the one to beat.

Wet Paint rallied from 10 lengths back and gained a fortuitous break by being able to split horses down the lane in the Honeybee. She caught upset-minded Condensation, who nearly stole the race at 22-1. Grand Love was third. All three are in this race.

So is Take Charge Briana, Towhead, Taxed, and Olivia Twist, who ran off the board.

That leaves only three others.

She’s Lookin Lucky just broke her maiden and then was second in allowance company at Oaklawn. Big step up from there.

Pate comes out of the $150,000 Dixie Bell and lost a thrilling stretch duel at six furlongs. Rallied from dead last to have the lead before just missing.

Asking a lot to step up in distance and class, but may have enough to beat at least the bottom tier of the Honeybee graduates.

Royal Spa enters off a hard-knocking allowance victory over six furlongs. Must step up, but is game.

What bettors will weigh: Can the likes of Pate, Royal Spa, and She’s Looking Lucky make an impact moving up? Will the clear surface affect any of the frontrunners? Can you get value with Condensation for a possible exacta box play with Wet Paint?

Hot Springs Stakes Contenders and Overview

It’s a rematch of three horses who flopped in the Rebel Stakes in the slop, two Gotham Stakes entries with different stories, and a pair of Oaklawn horses trying to move up.

Here’s a look, from the rail out:

Powerful was ninth in the Rebel at 77-1 and hopes to benefit from a class drop.

Eyeing Clover ran an excellent fourth in the Gotham. Over a tiring, heavy track, he vied for the lead in the homestretch before just missing third. On a better surface, he could be prominent.

Gun Pilot made a mid-race bid and flattened in the Rebel, but finished ahead of Powerful.

Cactus has done everything asked, winning two six-furlong dashes in his only career starts. Must stretch to 1 mile and face more experienced foes. Connections hope for a coming-of-age performance.

Frosted Departure helped set the pace in the Rebel but was overwhelmed and finished 8th.

Carmel Road is back in an interesting spot. He was thrown off stride by a horse that bolted from the gate and ran without a jockey in the Gotham. Had the lead in the stretch but tired badly. Clear skies are expected Saturday. Should be forwardly placed and has every chance to contend.

Rocking Rocket has not been able to win in allowance company. Moves into stakes company. Not desirable.

Also read: Arkansas odds and picks | Florida Derby odds and picks | Florida Derby field and Rainbow Pick 6 betting strategy

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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