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Archived: 2020 Arkansas Derby Odds and Betting Preview

April 29, 2020

The Kentucky Derby often features 20 horses. With the Run for the Roses moved to September, the Arkansas Derby has stepped up and rescheduled for what is traditionally Derby Day. However, Oaklawn Park can only accommodate 14 horses in a field, and 22 entered to participate in the main event. The solution: two Arkansas Derbies.

The first division, scheduled for a 6:30 pm EST start features the untested but incredibly impressive Charlatan. He is a serious favorite against the rest of the field.

The headliner in race two, at 7:43 pm, is Nadal. While the odds don’t necessarily indicate it, the competition level is significantly higher.

With big fields comes some value so let’s handicap both races and see what our best bets look like.

Arkansas Derby (1st Division) Odds

Horse Odds
Charlatan -225
Gouverneur Morris +500
Basin +1000
Anneau dOr +1400
Shooters Shoot +1400
Wrecking Crew +2800
Winning Impression +3300
Crypto Cash +4000
My Friends Beer +6600
Jungle Runner +10000
Mo Mosa +10000

 

The Favorite

It would be hard to have a better two-race career than Charlatan. He has run twice and won by open lengths in each appearance. You can knock the fact he has beaten just seven total horses in two contests, or the level of competition, but take a look at his last race and try to be skeptical.

Trained by Bob Baffert, who conditioned the only two Triple Crown winners in the modern generation, and purchased for $700,000, so far so good for Charlatan. Today he gets a bit of a test, both in number of challengers and class. The odds say he will win and do so easily, and his speed figures indicate the same. However, that’s why they run the race.

Other Contenders

With a massive favorite comes tempting odds on everybody else. Gouverneur Morris has run four times and won twice. His two losses have been against very strong fields in grade one races. That said, he wasn’t really a factor in March’s Florida Derby.

Gouverneur Morris cost $600,000 and is trained by the world-class Todd Pletcher. He has the right to improve but needs significantly better.

It is unclear whether Basin wants the mile-and-an-eighth distance after coming up short last time out in the Oaklawn Stakes. He was well beaten by Nadal, the favorite in division two of the Arkansas Derby, in his seasonal debut. However, his win in September’s Hopeful was super impressive.

Basin has consistently done reasonably well or better against good competition and should be in a good position just off the pace to make a move down the stretch.

Anneau d’Or has just one career victory but twice has been close against top competition. Check out how close he came in the Breeders Cup Juvenile in November at a huge price.

He had a tough trip and was ninth in the Risen Star Stakes in February, but if you can throw that race out because he was jostled early and in tight late, he has the back class to compete today.

If you are looking for a big upset, maybe Wrecking Crew is your choice. He has only one career win, but has run against very strong competition, and is working out well for this race.

Analysis

The most likely winner is Charlatan and it isn’t close. However, his odds make him a good bet only if you think he beats this field 70% of the time or more. While that probably is in the neighborhood of correct pricing, a small gamble on Basin or Anneau d’Or seeking some value isn’t ridiculous.

Arkansas Derby (2nd Division) Odds

Horse Odds
Nadal -120
King Guillermo +550
Wells Bayou +700
Storm The Court +1000
Silver Prospector +1200
Farmington Road +1400
Fast Enough +1400
Finnick The Fierce +3300
Taishan +3300
Code Runner +10000
Saratogian +10000

Favorite

Also trained by Baffert, Nadal is three for three. He has won two stakes races including Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes on March 14.

Nadal has won on the lead, and just off of it in his short career, and will be forwardly placed again. Can somebody catch him?

Other Contenders

Unlike Charlatan, who has speed figures that tower over his competition, Nadal faces several horses who should be competitive. One of them is King Guillermo. Owned by former MLB All-Star Victor Martinez, his first three races were ok but not brilliant. However, moved from the turf to dirt last time out he exploded.

If you believe his 2020 debut, the upset win in the Tampa Bay Derby is who King Guillermo is, then he will be a big factor in the Arkansas Derby. Was that one crazy race, or a horse that matured with time off and prefers dirt?

Wells Bayou won the Louisiana Derby last time out and has three wins in five starts. Another horse that wants to be near the lead, his only blemish this year is a second place finish in the Southwest Stakes.

It is a little concerning that Wells Bayou ran exactly the race he wanted to in the Southwest Stakes and lost to Silver Prospector, but that is just one heat, and he has earned the right to be strongly considered in this one.

As for Silver Prospector, the Southwest win is legit.

While that is a good victory, Nadal beat him soundly in the Rebel Stakes. He is a contender and perhaps good weather would be a benefit. Three of his last four races have come under wet conditions.

Storm the Court and Farmington Road have legitimate chances too. Storm the Court comes from California where he has been only so so this year but won the Breeders Cup Juvenile in November. Farmington Road ran into bad racing luck in his last two starts and was competitive against good horses.

Analysis

Nadal is the reasonable favorite but this is a wide-open race. If you think Nadal and Wells Bayou are going to duel on the lead, somebody off the pace might get set up well. Silver Prospector and Farmington Road have that style and are worth considering.

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