Kentucky Derby prep: Arkansas Derby odds and analysis

Kentucky Derby prep: Arkansas Derby odds and analysis
Photo: Liz Lamont / Eclipse Sportswire

The Grade 1, $1.25 million Arkansas Derby, which will be run Saturday, will be the 33rd official prep race on the road to Kentucky Derby 2023 and the final one at Oaklawn. The 1 1/8-mile race drew a field of 11 3-year-olds who will compete for the 100-40-30-20-10 points that go to the top five eligible finishers.

Heading into the Arkansas Derby, three horses in the field are in the top 20 of the Derby points list, ranked in positions 7, 13 and 16. Only two others have earned any qualifying points.

Here is a full-field analysis for the Arkansas Derby, which is scheduled as race 12 of 13 with post time set for 7:50 p.m. EDT. Each horse is shown with the official track morning line odds, his sire, trainer, jockey, record, purse earnings and Derby qualifying points.

1. Bourbon Bash (15-1, City of Light, D. Wayne Lukas, Reylu Gutierrez, 9: 1-3-1, $189,900, 5 Derby points) Bourbon Bash is the most experienced horse in the filed, with nine starts that go back to Saratoga where he broke his maiden by eight lengths in his second start. From there he ran in a series of stakes races with two top0three finishes. Most recently, he stretched out in distance and finished fifth in the Rebel (G2) on a sloppy track. Toss.

2. Interlock Empire (20-1, Classic Empire, Ken McPeek, David Cabrera, 4: 1-0-1, $64,313, 0 Derby points) Interlock Empire needed four starts to get his first victory, which he did just three weeks ago when he rallied from 10th and drew off to win by five lengths going a mile at odds of 17-1. Toss.

3. Harlocap (15-1, Justify, Steven Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 4: 1-2-0, $71,600, 0 Derby points) Harlocap began his career in California in the barn of Bob Baffert, where he broke his maiden in his third start in January at Santa Anita. At that point he was transferred to the barn of Steve Asmussen to become eligible for Kentucky Derby points races. In the Risen Star (G2) he had the lead in the early going but faded to sixth. Toss.

4. Two Eagles River (10-1, Cloud Computing, Chris Hartman, Nik Juarez, 5: 2-2-1, $195,700, 0 Derby points) Two Eagles River was a debut winner in October at Churchill Downs when he won a five-furlong sprint. He hit the board in all five of his starts, which included a stakes race at Oaklawn Park and an allowance most recently going a mile on the front end in February. The last three races were with Lasix, which cannot be used on the Derby trail. Toss.

5. Airtime (15-1, American Freedom, Robertino Diodoro, Cristian Torres, 5: 3-0-1, $134,130, 0 Derby points) Airtime won his second race in a $50,000 maiden claimer in September at Churchill. He was third in an allowance at Horseshoe Indianapolis after pressing the pace going a mile. Airtime was claimed for $50,000 in his first start of 2023, which he won by 10 lengths. He won his first start for his new barn in an allowance at Oaklawn after overcoming traffic, which caused him to come from off the pace. Live long shot.

6. Angel of Empire (9-2, Classic Empire, Brad Cox, Flavien Prat, 5: 3-1-0, $330,000, 54 Derby points) Angel of Empire already earned enough points to race in the run for the roses after running second in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn and then winning the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds with a closing move against that field of 14. His only poor start was a turf race at Kentucky Downs. Otherwise the Brad Cox runner won three times. Win contender.

7. Rocket Can (4-1, Into Mischief, Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado, 6: 2-2-0, $326,538, 40 Derby points) Rocket Can did not show much in his first two starts at Saratoga although he was well bet in both. At Churchill he was able to get his maiden victory going long on a sloppy track. He ended his 2-year-old campaign with a second in an allowance behind Confidence Game, who went on to win the Rebel (G2). Rocket Can went right to the Derby trail in 2023, winning the Holy Bull (G3) and then finishing second in the Fountain of Youth (G2) behind the division leader Forte. He also has enough points to start in the Kentucky Derby. Top choice.

8. Reincarnate (5-2, Good Magic, Tim Yakteen, John Velazquez, 6: 2-3-1, $231,900, 15 Derby points) Reincarnate made his first five starts for Baffert. He was second in his first three races and got to the winner’s circle at Del Mar in the final start of his juvenile campaign. He won a Derby prep in the Sham (G3) but was ineligible for the points. Reincarnate was part of the big group of 3-year-olds that moved to Tim Yakteen. In the Rebel, he broke poorly and had to check later in the race yet still finished third to earn Derby points. Win contender.

9. King Russell (30-1, Creative Cause, Ron Moquett, Rafael Bejarano, 5: 1-2-0, $94,850, 0 Derby points) King Russell needed five starts to beat a maiden special weight field, which he did at Oaklawn in February when he rallied through traffic to win by a neck. His first try in a stakes race will have to come without race day Lasix. Toss.

10. Red Route One (3-1, Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen, Tyler Gaffalione, 7: 1-2-1, $492,575, 33 Derby points) Red Route One will get blinkers for the first time after getting far behind in the early going of his last two starts in Derby prep races when he was still able to finish second. He might have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby field, so this is a good time to try the blinkers. Win contender.

11. Kolomio (30-1, Constitution, Keith Desormeaux, James Graham, 6: 1-0-2, $39,800, 0 Derby points) Kolomio is a New York-bred gelding who made all six of his starts in California, the last four on the grass. He was claimed for $50,000 in his latest start when he was third by a neck and returns on the Derby trail for new trainer Keith Desormeaux. Toss.

Summary: When you look at the Kentucky Derby qualifying points for the field in the Arkansas Derby, the horses fall into two groups – the five who have points and six who do not. The "have" group includes Angel of Empire, Rocket Can and Red Route One, and those three probably have enough points to be part of the big race on the first Saturday in May. Only one of the "do not" group has even made a start on the Derby trail.

Angel of Empire won the Risen Star, Rocket Can was victorious in the Holy Bull and Red Route One was second in the Rebel and the Southwest. Reincarnate also must be considered to be a win contender after running second in the Rebel when he broke poorly and then had to check later in the race.

It would be a reach to find the Arkansas Derby winner outside of those four 3-year-olds. Rocket Can will be the top choice based on his Derby trail victory, which was followed by a second in the Fountain of Youth behind the current Kentucky Derby favorite Forte.

Top Stories

Leading trainer Phil D’Amato’s international hit p...
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Administratio...
Red Route One posted a half-mile breeze in 50.85 s...
Echo Zulu , the champion 2-year-old filly of 2021...
Champion sprinter Elite Power continued his prepar...