In some people’s minds, Hot Springs, Arkansas is known as the 10th most populous city in Arkansas or as the boyhood home of one William Jefferson Blythe III, later known as William Jefferson Clinton, but in my mind, it is something altogether and completely different. It will forever be linked and revered as a place breeding limitless watering holes, a gambling mecca and a place for rejuvenation. The likes of Wyatt Earp, Frank & Jesse James, Al Capone and a suave president named Jack Kennedy frequently visited this place at the base of Hot Springs Mountain. However, as times changed, the once thriving gaming scene in Hot Springs dwindled down to one solitary place of worship, Oaklawn Park.
Oaklawn Park is site of many recent champions including some of the greats of the latest generation including 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, Dual Classic winner Afleet Alex and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. It is a special place that often catapults budding horses into superstars and this weekend will be no different with 13 horses set to go in this weekend’s renewal of the Arkansas Derby.
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Caleb’s Posse (KY), E Razo Jr., 122, D K Von Hemel, 10/1
3. Elite Alex (ON), C H Borel, 118, T F Ritchey, 8/1
4. The Factor (KY), M Garcia, 122, B Baffert, 7/5
5. Brethren (KY), R A Dominguez, 122, T A Pletcher, 10/1
6. Sway Away (KY), P A Valenzuela, 118, J Bonde, 6/1
7. Truman’s Commander (KY), I Ocampo, 118, N P Zito, 30/1
8. Dance City (VA), J Castellano, 118, T A Pletcher, 15/1
9. Archarcharch (KY), J K Court, 122, W H Fires, 12/1
10. J P’s Gusto (KY), M C Berry, 122, J Petalino, 15/1
11. J W Blue (KY), J Rocco Jr., 118, A W Dutrow, 30/1
12. Saratoga Red (KY), T J Thompson, 118, D W Lukas, 30/1
a – coupled entry
Blinkers On: Elite Alex, Brethren, Sway Away, J P’s Gusto
As expected, The Factor will go to the front and dictate the pace to the rest of the group. In my mind, Saratoga Red will do his best to shadow The Factor and will be followed closely by Dance City, Brethren, Truman’s Commander and the rest of the bunch. As they hit the top of the stretch, The Factor will look to lengthen his lead; however, much like Uncle Mo in the Wood Memorial, he will be worn down and passed in the stretch. As great as this horse is, I just cannot see him getting the 1 1/8 ahead of everyone else. I like Sway Away to finally get the best of him and push his way into the Derby conversation.
For those looking for a live play in the Arkansas Derby, look no further than Dance City. In spending some time at the track and speaking with a few insiders about how the horses have been working, I was able to get this gem from track personnel in Oaklawn. “I guess all I’d say is that this race should set up perfectly for Dance City, they’ll be flying on the front end while he’s sittin chilly, ears floppin’ in the wind relaxin and waitin…..when Javi says go well see who’s a Factor.”
That’s enough to convince me to use him.
The Pick: #6 Sway Away – #8 Dance City – #4 The Factor
Live Longshot: Dance City, ArchArchArch (plenty of others to entertain with a 7-5 favorite and several looking to forget their last race or attempt to race like JP’s Gusto and Alternation)
The Play: Some mixture of these five in Ex, Tri and Supers – 2,4,6,8,9
Enjoy the weekend and be sure to enjoy something other than just the “Mountain Valley Water.” I know that I will have a glass in hand at Keeneland enjoying some of the finer spirits in the land, mainly a glass of Woodford or if I’m lucky, a little Pappy.
Written By: Fundanichols
Final Note: Blue Grass Stakes: I am very interested to see the odds and how Crimson China runs. At first glance, I like Santiva, Crimson China and Queen’splatekitten, but we will see how that changes once I smell the polytrack.