It may be a chalky Arkansas Derby as Geo says redemption for Caddo River not likely

April 8, 2021

The Arkansas Derby features a rematch between Concert Tour and Caddo River with redemption on the line along with Kentucky Derby points

Here is what our man Geo had to say:

Geo Sette, hard at work as always

So, we have been rocking and rolling with the Kentucky Derby prep races over the past several weeks, and this takes us to the great state of Arkansas.  The 25th state to be admitted to the Union, did you know that’s why there’s 25 stars on the Arkansas state flag?  Ok, well now you know 😊 

The state of Arkansas is known for breathtakingly beautiful lakes, rivers and hot springs as well as the #1 national producer of rice and poultry, so if you are someone that consumes lots of rice and chicken, now you know where it’s most likely coming from. 

Arkansas is of course also known for thoroughbred racing, as Oaklawn Park was first opened back in 1904 and it’s a must visit if you’re ever in Hot Springs. 

This fabulous race for three-year-old’s inaugurated in 1936, so it’s history speaks for itself.   Who can forget the 2015 victory of American Pharoah, who after emerging victorious in this race, went on to win the Triple Crown.  This race also makes me think of the great Curlin who won in 2007. He later ran 3rd in his Run for the Roses, came back to win the Preakness Stakes, and then just missed by a head in the test of champions, the Belmont Stakes. 

This 2021 edition has a limited field of six. With the first Saturday in May just 3 weeks away, it still carries great importance, as this field fights for victory to insure their place in the Run for the Roses. 

Hey it’s a nice break for us handicappers, knowing that we’ll be working our hardest for what is likely to be a field of 20 at the Kentucky Derby (Stay tuned for my full analysis of the race everyone will be watching in 3 weeks). 

Here’s my precise breakdown of this Arkansas Derby field. It may be a day to up the ante and bring more money to the windows if you’re looking to make a big score.  This is my anticipated exact order of finish, and I will provide some betting schemes for you, are you ready? Let’s Go! 

#5 Concert Tour     

Sometimes you just need to face reality as it is. This son of Street Sense simply appears to be the most likely winner and he’ll be significantly backed at the windows. He looks to be the inevitable favorite at low odds. If he isn’t  the favorite at post time, one would most likely consider an investigation is needed.  Hey don’t get me wrong, as always I dig down deep with the horses, with what I see on film in race replays, on paper with their past performances and of course great consideration towards their pedigrees, especially with three-year-olds racing at a distance they have never attempted before.  This guy simply stands out, and will likely be bet down to the tune of 2:5.

Bob Baffert is not likely to lose back to back Grade 1’s with an odds on choice ( Medina Spirit 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby) and he once again saddles Joel Rosario ( his regular rider) who is on an absolute tear, easily the hottest rider in the country during this spring season.  Baffert has won this race three times as well.  This beautiful colt was purchased at a discount for $60,000. He did not run as a juvenile and began his career in a sprint at Santa Anita where he won almost effortlessly. Three weeks later he jumped into the Grade 2 ranks in the San Vincente, racing wide and absorbing an additional furlong. He ran a big number that day even though he drifted some and won by half a length. 5 weeks later, they stretched him some more to a mile & 1/16th in the grade 2 Rebel over this same Oaklawn soil where he simply dominated the 8 horse field, going wire to wire defeating his stablemate Hozier.  He comes into this race with a pair of handily works going 5 and 6 panels looking extremely fresh and fit.  The Kentucky Derby could be a different story for this guy as he’s raced in a pair of 5 horse fields and his last being only 8, and now of course he faces only 5 rivals in this 6-horse race.  It’s extremely likely that he once again will break for the lead, and face an early challenge by Caddo River. Even so, Rosario is too smart to get caught in a speed duel which could challenge his finish going 9 furlongs.  This guy simply may be too good for this field. Some of the others have shown a nice turn of foot, but none of them have the flawless, consistent resume he possesses.  Sometimes as a seasoned handicapper you just need to accept the short-priced betting favorite. Owned by Gary and Mary West, in my opinion, he will have to take a bad step or have a problem with his break from the gate to lose.   A must with your betting exotics, a nice lead for your exacta and triple wagers.  Rosario won this race last year (1 of 2 divisions) and he’s likely to win again this year. 

# 2 Caddo River

This colt is fast, and has been impressive finishing in the money in 4 of his 5 lifetime starts, winning two of them.  He raced 3 times as a juvenile, took a few months off and came back running extremely well in his three-year-old debut. He simply cruised around the track winning by 10+. Then he faced my top choice  in his last, breaking from the rail and he simply was out-sprinted early on, was rank and ended up being finished early. This was really unexpected as the race was over this same Oaklawn soil where he was in cruise control going a mile.  He comes back here freshened with a couple of nice breezes and I believe Brad Cox will find a way to make amends. They will allow the race to materialize, if he makes the lead early, he’ll take it, but if he doesn’t he’s likely to chase Concert Tour  around the track again, but this time I feel he’ll have lots left in the final furlong. Speed is a nice asset to have, and it will be used, even if tactically. Just do not expect either horse to surrender to a speed duel, the very reliable Florent Geroux is back up.  This colt is talented, he just may be overmatched in this spot. Sired by Hard Spun, he’s likely to have a promising career. He’s my choice for 2nd money which may very likely result in an ice cold $8.00 exacta. Hey what’s wrong with 4X your money in one minute and 48 seconds? A $200 exacta brings you a cool $800.00. Who’s better than you? 

# 3 Hozier  

This beautiful colt was purchased at a very robust $625,000.00. He began his career this year and never ran as a juvenile. As mentioned before, a stablemate to my top choice from the Bob Baffert barn. His bloodlines suggest that he can run all day, sired by Pioneer of the Nile (Empire Maker). He comes into this race with a rather impressive bullet work, going 4 panels in 46.3 handily. There are many things that may attract you to this colt, but overall, his 3 races haven’t been overly impressive. He beat a middle of the pack field of maiden special weights but he was beaten soundly by Concert Tour by 4+ lengths.  I originally had him placed as my 4th choice but I moved him up because he’s likely to improve and he should close well into the added distance.  There are some handicappers who have suggested a speed duel to occur which would open up this colt to close into faster fractions, but the jockeys are simply too smart and Concert Tour simply may prove the others inferior to him.  I can suggest you use him in your robust triple wagers, and perhaps as a saver to your huge exacta play.  My feeling is that he’ll close to finish 3rd or 4th in this field. He really hasn’t beaten anyone special and his speed figures aren’t as fast as my top 2 choices. 

# 1 Super Stock

This colt comes into the race with the most experience having raced 7 times,  oddly enough 6 times as a juvenile and recently making his three-year-old debut on March 13th. He’s hit the board in 5 of his 7 races. He’s always been considered a precocious colt, having raced over various tracks and distances in the early stages of his career. I always have great respect for the Steven Asmussen barn and I’m confident his colt will be prepared.  Asmussen has won this race 4 times, and he’s saddling Ricardo Santana Jr. who has won it twice.   I feel he’ll take to the added distance, but overall he needs to improve on many levels with his overall Beyer speed figures.  If he runs an improved race, he’s good enough vs these rivals to fill out your triples, so I would suggest using him underneath my top 2 and a must in your Superfecta wages.  It’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to pull off an upset, but he could potentially close into your deeper gimmicks, perhaps his overall experience will pay some dividends. 

# 4  Get Her Number  

This colt comes in off of his seasonal debut.  His first race as a three-year-old, he didn’t have a good trip, was sort of wide and was bumped in his journey. He was beaten soundly by both horses listed above from the Baffert stable.  There’s a jockey change to Francisco Arrieta who has made quite a name for himself at Oaklawn Park,  and he’s saddled by the Peter Miller barn that is really accustomed to winning.  This colt is actually a Grade 1 winner, as he defeated a field of 6 rivals to win the Grade One American Pharaoh back in September at Santa Anita.  He does possess the ability to be very tactical early on, but overall his numbers have been inferior to some of the others in this field.  His works for the race are decent but far from being very fast.  I’m not entirely sure owner Gary Barber and trainer Miller know precisely what direction he needs to go. He began his career with two races on the weeds at Delmar, then he won at a generous price in the American Pharaoh.   Bottom line in this short field, the best I could offer would be for him to improve and to sneak into the Superfecta or an even bigger sneak into the Triple,  but he’s my 5th choice in this field of 6 

#6 Last Samurai

This colt was purchased for $175,000 and was sired by the magnificent Malibu Moon by A.P.Indy. He did very well with my pedigree grade, but unfortunately his performances over the racetrack have been a major disappointment.  His 3 races as a Juvenile were all at Churchill Downs and with them all he posted very slow Beyers. He took 5+ months off and came back to race over this Oaklawn strip in the Grade 3 Southwest, but he caught a very sloppy track, and was completely empty in his run down the stretch with Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality and Jackie’s Warrior . The ageless Jon Court is in the saddle  ( Jon actually won this race in back to back years in 2010 and 2011). Dallas Stewart is the conditioner and he’s almost always competitive with his starts, but this colt simply seems up against it.   He’s the # 6 horse, and that’s where he’s most likely to finish, 6th and last.  I guess he could possible beat one or two of these if they falter, but it’s hard to recommend a horse like this who has struggled vs lesser. 

Well there you have it, this is likely to be a very “form full” race with smaller mutual payouts, but if you load your gun well and take a big shot you can score big.  Be decisive, be confident and go for it. 

As always, I want to thank you in advance for your readership and comments. 

Enjoy this big race and stay tuned for a Mega-Column and in-depth analysis on the Kentucky Derby which will be published 3 days before the big race. 

Contributing Authors

Geo Sette

Geo has been fascinated with the Sport of Kings since he was 15 years old. He was raised in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York. His...

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@jonathanstettin What a surprise….thank you—- thank you….I can say I was part of history.

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