Horse Betting: Canceled Kentucky Derby Prep Races Bolsters Arkansas Derby

For the first time ever, the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park will be run in two divisions, about an hour apart.

This is one race New Jersey sports betting fans should not to miss.

The Arkansas Derby produced three eventual Kentucky Derby winners and Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in 2015.

Each division has a $500,000 purse. The first division has a post time of 6:29 EST, the second is at 7:43.

In between these two races is the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap, creating an extraordinary three-race package.

Oaklawn Park races can be bet at one of the best online betting sites,  4NJBets, powered by TVG.  NJ horse betting customers also have access to:

  • Gulfstream Park
  • Tampa Bay Downs
  • Remington Park
  • Fonner Park
  • Los Alamitos
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The Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park

There will be 22 horses entered in two fields of 11 for the Arkansas Derby and the winners of each will be awarded Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

The Kentucky Derby, originally scheduled for Saturday, will be run Sept. 5.

The Arkansas Derby field is exceptionally large because other  Kentucky Derby preps like the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial and Blue Grass Stakes were postponed or canceled. The last race yielding qualifying points was the Florida Derby March 28.

Pat Pope, the racing secretary for Oaklawn Park, spoke to NJ Gambling Sites Sunday afternoon, right after the decision was announced to expand to two divisions.

“We are really excited about this. This is a tremendous chance to give the trainers who have been working with their horses all spring a place to go.

“Handle has been good for us recently. We look forward to closing day and then hope that the other tracks will open up and run afterward.”

Although Oaklawn runs without spectators, online bettors have supported the Arkansas track.

“It’s going to be a great week for us. You look at TV right now and you see three major tracks, Gulfstream, Tampa Bay, and us, which means there is a lot of attention on our program,” said Pope.

This is the first Saturday in May that won’t have a Kentucky Derby since 1945. But that means there can be far more viewers and wagers made on the Arkansas Derby than in the past, given that people associate the first Saturday in May with an epic horse race.

The Saturday races mark the closing day for Oakland Park with the first post on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

The entire card will be broadcast on FoxSports1 and TVG. Part of the card, including the stakes races, will be shown on NBC Sports from the TVG feed.

Arkansas Derby lineup

Here is the latest lineup of Arkansas Derby entries with jockeys’ names in parentheses. Some are listed on more than one horse and will choose their mount during the week.

Arkansas Derby 1

  1. Charlatan (Martin Garcia)
  2. My Friends Beer (Declan Cannon)
  3. Mo Mosa (Kendrick Carmouche)
  4. Gouverneur Morris (John Velazquez)
  5. Jungle Runner (Tyler Baze)
  6. Shooters Shoot (Joe Talamo)
  7. Wrecking Crew (Flavien Prat)
  8. Anneau d’Or (Juan Hernandez)
  9. Winning Impression (Julien Leparoux)
  10. Crypto Cash (Corey Lanerie)
  11. Basin (Ricardo Santana Jr.)

Arkansas Derby 2

  1. Finnick the Fierce (Martin Garcia)
  2. Saratogian (Joe Talamo)
  3. Storm the Court (Flavien Prat)
  4. King Guillermo (Samy Camacho Jr.)
  5. Nadal (Joel Rosario)
  6. Code Runner (Stewart Elliott)
  7. Silver Prospector (Ricardo Santana Jr.)
  8. Fast Enough (Tyler Baze)
  9. Taishan (David Cohen)
  10. Farmington Road (Javier Castellano)
  11. Wells Bayou (Florent Geroux)

The expanded field ensured that Nadal and Charlatan, unbeaten horses connected with Hall-of-Fame trainer Bob Baffert, could get into this race.

Arkansas Derby notables include the Louisiana Derby (Grade 2) winner Wells Bayou, Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner King Guillermo, Southwest Stakes winner Silver Prospector (G3) and Storm the Court, 2019’s champion 2-year-old colt.

There is an interesting about Talamo, Garcia, Cohen and Santana Jr.  They are the top four jockeys running at Oaklawn all season long. We’ve mentioned how significant riding titles are for them in order to expand their careers.

Now, the Oaklawn jockeys have the biggest race in the industry coming to their home tracks. This is the one time they would like to deliver the ride of their lives.

The 2019 Arkansas Derby is significant for what happened the following month. Omaha Beach won this event last April.  The distant third-place finisher was Country House.

Sound familiar?

In May, Country House placed first in the Kentucky Derby after the winner Maximum Security received the first-ever disqualification in Derby history. Country House paid 65-1.

The $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) is the main event on the undercard. The 1 1/8 miles for 4-year-olds and up drew 14 entries, including:

  • Mr. Freeze
  • Warrior’s Charge
  • Combatant
  • Tacitus
  • By My Standards
  • Improbable

Tampa Bay and Fonner tracks fill the void

With uncertainty surrounding when tracks like Pimlico in Baltimore and Belmont Park in New York will begin racing, two tracks announced extensions of their program through May.

Tampa Bay, which was going to close this Sunday, will continue through May 30. The track plans to run Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the last four weeks of May.

Fonner Park racing has said that the Nebraska State Racing Commission granted approval for an additional twelve days of racing in May to conduct a second season. It runs May 4- May 31, Monday – Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET.

About the Author

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, a multiple national award-winning boxing commentator and writer, authors NFL betting columns for the Press of Atlantic City and IGaming Player, among others.