Arkansas Derby Time!


Below is a condensed recap of tomorrow’s ( April 14)
Arkansas Derby lineup sent by Oaklawn’s Jennifer Hoyt.  The Arkansas Derby signals the end of
the live racing season at Oaklawn and is part of the Racing Festival of the
South, which started on Wednesday. Today, 2011 Kentucky Oaks Winner Plum Pretty
makes her season debut in the $500,000 Apple Blossom. The Apple Blossom is
today’s  main attraction, 10th on
an 11-race card that also features the Instant Racing Stakes (ninth on the
card). First post is 1:30 p.m. (CDT) and the Apple Blossom is schedule to go
off at 6:04 p.m. (CDT).
As for tomorrow’s Arkansas Derby:


Eleven 3-year-olds are set for Saturday’s $1 million
Arkansas Derby  led by the Bob
Baffert-trained duo of Bodemeister and Secret Circle.
The marquee race will anchor a 12-race card,that also
features the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap Oaklawn Handicap. First post is at
noon and the Derby will be at 5:45 p.m. (CDT). It is part on a one-hour
national broadcast from 5-6 (CDT) on CNBC.


Zayat Stable’s Bodemeister, named in honor of the trainer’s
son Bode, enters the Arkansas Derby off a narrow loss to the highly regarded
Creative Cause in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita March 10. He will have
to call on all his talents after drawing post 11 under Hall of Fame rider Mike
Smith, who became the newest member of the 5,000-win club last weekend.


Secret Circle, owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul
Weitman, drew post 5 and will have regular rider Rafael Bejarano back on board.
He will vie for favoritism from his stablemate after his earlier wins this
season. In the Rebel, he showed a new dimension when he sat off the early pace
and held off the late charge by Optimizer to win his first race over one mile.


Arriving from the east coast were Stat and Raconteur from
the barn of Todd Pletcher and Cozzetti from the barn of Dale Romans. Pletcher
won the 2000 and 2001 Arkansas Derby with Graeme Hall and Balto Star,
respectively and won his first Kentucky Derby with 2010 runner-up Super Saver.


Leading the local contingent is Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer,
out to continue his momentum shown at the end of the Rebel. He would give
jockey Jon Court his third straight Arkansas Derby victory following Line of
David and Archarcharch.


Two other colts who could get overlooked but have legitimate
credentials are Jake Mo and Najjaar. Jake Mo will be the only colt to compete
in all four of Oaklawn’s 3-year-old races having already finished fourth in the
Smarty Jones, second in the first division of the Southwest won by Secret
Circle’s stablemate Castaway and fourth in the Rebel. Najjaar won two straight
allowance races, including one over older horses prior to finishing sixth in
the Rebel after a poor break. He drew post 3 and will have the services of
jockey Calvin Borel.


The complete field for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1),
in post-position order, with riders and morning line odds: Cozzetti, Jose
Lezcano, 15-1; Stat, John Velazquez, 10-1; Najjaar, Calvin Borel, 15-1; Jake
Mo, Cliff Berry, 30-1; Secret Circle, Rafael Bejaraon, 5-2, Isn’t He Clever,
Robby Albarado, 6-1; Optimizer, Jon Court, 30-1; Atigun, Terry Thompson, 30-1;
Sabercat, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Raconteur, Chris DeCarlo, 15-1, and
Bodemeister, Mike Smith, 9-5.
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