Saturday was supposed to be Arkansas Derby Day at Oaklawn Park, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced the racetrack to move their marquee event to the first Saturday of May. Nevertheless, there will still be Kentucky Derby hopefuls in action.
The $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes drew a field of 13 and will serve as a prep race for next month’s Arkansas Derby (G1), which in most years is a key race for the Kentucky Derby, which has now been postponed until the first Saturday of September.
The first three finishers of Saturday’s race will earn a guaranteed spot in the field for the Arkansas Derby, while the Sportsbook also earns a spot in the starting gate for the Preakness Stakes (G1), which still does not have a firm date.
The Bob Baffert-trained Thousand Worlds is the +250 morning-line favorite for the Oaklawn Stakes and is one of four top three-year-olds in the Hall of Fame trainer’s barn that is a top contender for the Run for the Roses.
Baffert trains Charlatan, the second choice in early Kentucky Derby odds at Sportsbook at +500, along with the co-third choices Nadal and Authentic, who are at +800.
Thousand Words was at +1800 back in January but after his fourth-place finish in the San Felipe (G2) in his last outing his price has drifted up to +3300 at Sportsbook.
Here are three contenders worth playing for Saturday’s Oaklawn Stakes and two are going to be generous prices:
#8 Taishan +800
This colt took the field gate to wire to beat first-level optional claimers last out in the slop at Oaklawn Park, a career top effort. The Richard Baltas trainee looks to be coming into this race in sharp form and is going to be a decent price, He did not fire his best two back in his local debut where he was fifth in the Southwest (G3). He was fourth in the Sham (G3) at Santa Anita in his first start in stakes company, running into a tough group.
The Sportsbook of that race was Authentic, who won the San Felipe (G2) in his next start and is the co-third choice in early Kentucky Derby wagering at Sportsbook at +800. The colt should be able to work out a good trip while forwardly placed and has the pedigree to handle nine furlongs. He is by Twirling Candy out of the stakes Sportsbook Grace Phil ($377,252). Decent value if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.
#4 Thousand Words +250
The Bob Baffert trainee is going to be the favorite here. He won his first three starts before coming up empty in the stretch last out in the San Felipe (G2), a race won by his stablemate Authentic. He won the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) in his second career start and followed that up with a win in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita.
He is one of four strong Kentucky Derby candidates in the Baffert barn and his future odds for the Derby have drifted up after his last outing and are now at +3300. He figures to bounce back with a better effort and Baffert is always dangerous when shipping into Oaklawn Park.
#13 Gold Street +2000
This colt draws a tough post but is going to be a big price after his poor outing last out in a ninth-place finish in the Southwest (G3). The colt got caught up in some traffic when down in tight early and was shuffled back on the backstretch and faded.
The colt took the field gate to wire in the mud two back to win the Smarty Jones in a sharp effort. That was his first start going long after winning the six-furlong Sugar Bowl three back at Fair Grounds. The Asmussen trainee is better than he showed last out and figures to bounce back with a much better effort.
Handicapper Michael Dempsey will be covering the Triple Crown for Odds Shark and his full card reports with selections, analysis, fair odds line and wagering recommendations for major tracks can be found daily at https://turfnsport.com.