Jerry Bailey said Bob Baffert refers to his good horses two ways: “Cherry” and SuperCherry.” Bailey said Baffert referred to Arrogate with the latter descriptive. When asked about his two Arkansas Derby contenders, Charlatan and Nadal, Baffert responded, “SuperCherry.” And so they were topping a huge sundae on a Spring Saturday in Arkansas for Baffert.
With a dominant wire-to-wire performance, Charlatan asserted his 3-year-old position in Saturday’s first division of the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1). The undefeated Baffert-trained colt cruised to a six-length win in his stakes debut with new jockey Martin Garcia.
About an hour after stablemate Charlatan wired the first division of the Arkansas Derby, fellow unbeaten Nadal cried victor in the second division. At the wire Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had swept the doubleheader, buttressing his chances of a record-tying sixth Kentucky Derby (G1) on the first Saturday in September.
Favored at 1-5 among nine runners in division one, Charlatan sprinted forward and set a prompt pace, posting opening splits in :22.88, :46.08, and 1:09.68 while up by a couple of lengths. Accelerating out of the far turn, he passed the mile in 1:35.33 with a widening advantage, and cruised home to finish the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:48.49. The win gave Charlatan 100 Kentucky Derby Series points.
Basin chased Charlatan throughout in second, holding off third-place Gouverneur Morris by a neck at the wire, earning 40 and 20 Kentucky Derby Series, respectively. It was another three lengths to Winning Impression in fourth who collected 10 series points. Anneau d’Or, Crypto Cash, Mo Mosa, Jungle Runner, and My Friends Beer finished the order.
The fleet-footed Charlatan wired in his debut at 6-furlongs at Santa Anita in mid-February breaking his maiden by 5 3/4 lengths. Stretching it out to two turns in March he again wired by 10 lengths. Both performances showed triple digit speed figures.
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Farm, Charlatan sold for $700,000 as a 2018 Keeneland September yearling. Sired by champion sprinter Speightstown he’s out of two-turn specialist Authenticity. Authenticity is by Quiet American, the sire of 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet, who was trained by Baffert.
Charlatan is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet, Frederick Hertrich III, John Fielding, and Golconda Stables.
“I can say I am really lucky to ride him,” Garcia said. “Mr. Baffert and the owners had a lot of choices. They pick me. I just did my job. (Charlatan) just took me to the winner’s circle. They told me we were smoking. I went in 1:09, and he was just galloping. He did in all within himself. I felt someone coming at the three-eighths (pole) and I let him go. He just took off. That’s a sign of a really good horse.”
The other half of Baffert’s sundae, Nadal, was the 9-10 division two favorite after gutsy victories in the Rebel (G2) and San Vicente (G2). Expected to set a bold pace, the steely colt settled in as stalker after Wells Bayou blasted to the lead. Adjusting well under Joel Rosario, Nadal gradually increased the pressure.
Turning for home, there was no doubt about the result as Nadal put away Wells Bayou and forged clear. King Guillermo, who was also tracking early, kept on gamely but could make no impression on the winner.
Nadal crossed the wire fully in command by three lengths, completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.34. Charlatan had taken 1:48.49 in his unchallenged, 6-length romp, going slightly quicker fractions of :22.88, :46.08, 1:09.68, and 1:35.33. By way of comparison in the second division, Wells Bayou posted :23.08, :46.21, and 1:09.85. Nadal was in front at the mile split in 1:35.63 and reeled off his last furlong in :12.71, compared to Charlatan’s closing fraction of :13.16.
Should make for an interesting Kentucky Derby match up.
Nadal banked 100 points here to go along with his 50 from the Rebel to become the new Kentucky Derby points leader with 150 on the scoreboard. King Guillermo added 40 to his prior 50 for shocking the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), upping his total to 90. The 62-1 Finnick the Fierce placed third, good for 20 points, and now has 25 in his account. Farmington Road ground his way from last into fourth, a 10-point effort that inches him up to 15 in all.
Wells Bayou tired to fifth. Next came Storm the Court, still winless since shocking last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1); Silver Prospector, Code Runner, and Taishan. Fast Enough and Saratogian were scratched.
Campaigned by George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman, and Mark Mathiesen, Nadal is now a perfect 4-for-4, and he’s a newly minted millionaire with earnings of $1,053,000.
Co-owner Bolton told Oaklawn publicity that he expected Nadal to handle the situation, since Baffert had been working him behind horses.
“I thought if there was speed today, he could sit off it,” Bolton said. “He had a much more comfortable trip than in the Rebel when he was attacked by three different challengers. I was very proud. He finished well.
“I have a secret. Bob called me two days ago and said he wanted me to come. He said he thought he’d run big and wanted me there.”
A son of Blame, who edged Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) thriller, Nadal was bred by Sierra Farm in Kentucky. He initially sold to horseman Randy Bradshaw, agent, for $65,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September. The bay developed into a hot prospect as a 2-year-old in training, when bringing $700,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Gulfstream Sale.
Named for tennis great and 19-time Grand Slam winner, Rafael Nadal, this colt is proving every bit worthy his namesake. Nadal the player’s nickname is “The Raging Bull.” Just don’t draw post one, Charlatan.
Past The Wire Staff
Photos: Charlatan winning Divisions 1 of Arkansas Derby. Credit: Coady Photography
Nadal romps to win Division 2 of Arkansas Derby for Bob Baffert. Credit: Coady Photography