Super Stock wins Arkansas Derby to qualify for Kentucky

Super Stock wins Arkansas Derby to qualify for Kentucky
Photo: Ted McClenning/Eclipse Sportswire

Super Stock used a late surge under Ricardo Santana Jr. to win the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby and lock up a spot in next month's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. 

Super Stock saved ground throughout while pressing the pace before angling out in mid-stretch and reeling in both odds-on favorite Concert Tour and Caddo River to win going away by 2 1/2 lengths. The son of Dialed In, who entered with just nine Derby qualifying points, tacked on 100 more with the win to vault near the top of the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. 

“We got a beautiful trip," Santana said. "I was talking to Mr. Steve (Asmussen) for about two weeks about this race. The post was perfect. We both liked breaking from No. 1. We knew there was some speed and everything came out perfect. It was a really important win for Steve and his family. I’m really blessed to be the one they chose to ride this race.”

Caddo River got second after setting lively early fractions under Florent Geroux, which gives him 50 points in total and a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Concert Tour had already qualified for the Kentucky Derby and earned 20 additional points for third. Get Her Number was fourth to increase his point total to 20, which does not figure to be enough to make the Kentucky Derby. 

Super Stock, who was making his second start off a 4 1/2-month layoff, won in a final time of 1:50.92 for 1 1/8-miles on a fast track. He paid $26.40 as the fourth choice in the wagering. Splits were 22.61 and 46.51 for a sharp opening half mile, 1:11.25 for six furlongs and 1:37.64 for a mile.

Asmussen tallied his third Arkansas Derby win, but is still seeking a first Kentucky Derby victory in his distinguished career. He also has Midnight Bourbon set for this year's 1 1/4-miles classic.

“(Tactically it set up) perfectly," Asmussen said. "We wanted to use his post position. I thought he used his post position into the first turn extremely well. Those horses went :46 2/5 for a half-mile. Plenty solid factions, carried him nicely.

"My confidence level was he was going to run really good," Asmussen added. "I've been in races like that, that you have no control over how good or bad somebody else runs. But I felt like that he was going to represent extremely well.”

Trainer Bob Baffert offered his insight into the performance of his beaten favorite, Concert Tour.

“He's there and just got tired there at the end," said Baffert, who seeks a record-breaking seventh Kentucky Derby win. "He's a young horse. It was a good race, but I was more disappointed in my other horse in the race (Hozier). That other horse, he got tired early.

"Those things happen," Baffert added. "You get beat and try to figure out - they're still young and they're still having these races. Sometimes, you learn more from a loss than a win. Right now, (Concert Tour) got beat. I can't make any excuses for him right now.”

Super Stock is owned by Erv Woolsey and longtime horseman Keith Asmussen, the trainer's father. He was exiting a fourth-place finish in last month's Rebel (G2) won by Concert Tour, where he was far back early and encountered mild traffic problems in the stretch. Previously, he was second by a half-length to Saturday's Lexington (G2) winner, King Fury, in last October's Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs. 

Super Stock ups his record to 8: 2-2-2 and earnings of $804,762 with his only previous win coming last August in the Texas Futurity at Lone Star Park while still a maiden. He was a $70,000 auction purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September yearling sale.  

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