Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park is the last prep race on the road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve that offers 170 total qualifying points to the top four finishers, distributed on a 100-40-20-10 scale. The 1 1/8-mile, Grade 1 race is headlined by Bob Baffert-trained Concert Tour, who won the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 13 to emerge as a leading Kentucky Derby contender.
During this century, the Arkansas Derby has become one of the most important prep races for the Kentucky Derby and subsequent Triple Crown races, with horses such as Smarty Jones (Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes), Afleet Alex (Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes), Curlin (Preakness Stakes), American Pharoah (Triple Crown), and Creator (Belmont Stakes) taking top honors in Oaklawn’s signature race.
The 85th Arkansas Derby will be televised on NBCSN in the final show on NBC Sports' “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series from 7 - 8 p.m. ET before the focus shifts to Louisville for the 147th run for the roses on May 1. Post time for the Arkansas Derby is set for 7:41 p.m. ET.
Read on for information about all six Arkansas Derby contenders.
1. Super Stock (6-1)
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owners: Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen
Career record: 7 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 2 thirds
Career earnings: $204,762
Earnings per start: $29,252
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 95
Kentucky Derby Points: 9
Pedigree: Dialed In – Super Girlie, by Closing Argument
Running style: Stalker/closer
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Super Stock made his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel Stakes last month at Oaklawn and grinded through the stretch to edge a tiring Caddo River for fourth, ending up 6 ½ lengths behind runaway winner Concert Tour. He meets that pair again Saturday along with Rebel runner-up Hozier, which makes his win chances remote. On the other hand, he hit the board in the final five of his six starts as a juvenile in 2020, including the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity won by champion and Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality. This son of Florida Derby winner Dialed In may have a ceiling below the best horses in his age group, but he’s dependable and figures to improve in his second start of the year as well. If he does, he could spice up the exotic tickets at decent odds for four-time Arkansas Derby winner Steve Asmussen. Asmussen’s Basin was elevated from second to first in the first division of the Arkansas Derby last year after Charlatan was disqualified due to a medication violation. The Hall of Famer’s other wins came with Creator (2016), Hall of Famer Curlin (2007), and Private Emblem (2002). Creator and Curlin went on to win the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes, respectively, and Curlin was voted Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008. Ricardo Santana Jr., Asmussen's first-call rider and a perennial leading jockey at Oaklawn who is atop the standings again in 2021, was aboard Creator in 2016.
2. Caddo River (7-2)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Trainer: Brad Cox
Owner: Shortleaf Stable
Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $196,092
Earnings per start: $39,218
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101
Kentucky Derby Points: 10
Pedigree: Hard Spun – Pangburn, by Congrats
Color: Dark bay or brown
Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace
Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt owned by Hot Springs, Ark., resident John Ed Anthony seeks redemption in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby after a disappointing fifth-place finish as the 6-5 favorite in the Rebel Stakes on March 13. After leading at every point of call in two straight wins at a mile – last November at Churchill Downs and then a runaway score in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn – Caddo River failed to secure the lead in the Rebel. Instead, he was rated behind pacesetter Concert Tour through the backstretch and tried to engage that foe on the far turn, to no avail. As Concert Tour spurted away, Caddo River came out in the homestretch and bumped a foe, tired late, and dropped out of the superfecta at the finish, edged by Super Stock. Needless to say, the Arkansas Derby is his last-ditch effort to make the Kentucky Derby, and given that he’ll face three horses that defeated him last time in Concert Tour, Hozier, and Super Stock, it’s a tough challenge. Expect jockey Florent Geroux to be more aggressive with him this time and take it to Concert Tour as soon as the starting gate opens, since both of Caddo River’s career wins have come on the front end. His best effort could put him in the Arkansas Derby exacta and give him at least 40 more Kentucky Derby points – but has he already peaked? As Loblolly Stable, John Ed Anthony won the Arkansas Derby in 1980 (Temperence Hill), 1987 (Demons Begone), and 1992 (Pine Bluff). Temperence Hill and Pine Bluff went on to win the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes, respectively.
3. Hozier (3-1)
Jockey: Martin Garcia
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $240,260
Earnings per start: $80,087
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99
Kentucky Derby Points: 20
Pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile – Merry Meadow, by Henny Hughes
Running style: Closer
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Bob Baffert’s “other” Arkansas Derby contender will almost certainly continue to be overshadowed by Concert Tour at the betting windows leading up to the big race Saturday, but he validated Baffert’s ambitious move to start him in the Rebel Stakes with a good second-place finish. Based on that, Hozier is a logical horse to use in exotic bets Saturday as he takes the next step up the class ladder. In the Rebel, Martin Garcia saved ground on Hozier throughout and moved up in the stretch to secure second without threatening Concert Tour. This son of Pioneerof the Nile has the pedigree to handle extra distance and he should once again sit back in the early stages and make one run late. If he can boost his 99 Equibase Speed Figure from the Rebel another five to 10 points, and if Caddo River hooks Concert Tour up in a suicidal speed duel (a remote possibility), Hozier could post the Arkansas Derby upset – but even another runner-up finish should be enough to send this colt and his connections on to Louisville. Baffert’s three prior Arkansas Derby wins were with Bodemeister (2012), Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah (2015), and Nadal (the second division in 2020). Stonestreet Stables bought majority interest in future Hall of Famer Curlin prior to his romps in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby in 2007.
4. Get Her Number (6-1)
Jockey: Francisco Arrieta
Trainer: Peter Miller
Owner: Gary Barber
Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $225,667
Earnings per start: $56,417
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92
Kentucky Derby Points: 10
Pedigree: Dialed In – Fancier, by Bernstein
Running style: Press the pace/stalker
Notable achievements and interesting facts: After a successful juvenile campaign that ended with a Grade 1 win in the American Pharoah Stakes, Get Her Number showed little in his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel Stakes last month at Oaklawn, checking in seventh of eight. He was forwardly placed in all three of his starts in 2020 but appeared overmatched by Concert Tour in the Rebel. His career-best 92 Equibase Speed Figure, which was earned in the Rebel, will have to improve by around 15 points in a tougher assignment Saturday. While it’s possible that Get Her Number will improve in his second start after a five-plus months break, other outsider win candidates such as Hozier and Super Stock have more upside. Filling out the trifecta in this short field would appear to be his ceiling. Jockey Francisco Arrieta picks up his first Arkansas Derby mount on Get Her Number; he is enjoying a fine first meet riding in Hot Springs, ranking second in wins and third in earnings through April 6.
5. Concert Tour (1-1)
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owners: Gary and Mary West
Career record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $756,600
Earnings per start: $252,200
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106
Kentucky Derby Points: 50
Pedigree: Street Sense – Purse Strings, by Tapit
Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Last Saturday, Essential Quality extended his unbeaten record with a win in a major Kentucky Derby points race – the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes – to seal his position as the favorite for the May 1 run for the roses. This Saturday, Concert Tour is in an ideal position to secure the second favorite spot for Kentucky Derby 147 as he seeks to win his fourth race without a loss in the Arkansas Derby. This talented and fast son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense showed a new dimension in his recent Rebel Stakes victory at Oaklawn, shipping from California and trying two turns for the first time. He shot out of the starting gate and immediately controlled the pace under a flawless ride from Joel Rosario, setting modest fractions and then leaving the field in his wake at the top of the stretch en route to a 4 ¼-length score. Rosario geared Concert Tour down in the late stages with an eye on extending out another sixteenth of a mile in Saturday’s race, and Concert Tour has put in two solid maintenance workouts at Santa Anita Park in preparation. He checks all of the boxes as a prohibitive Arkansas Derby favorite, with the only concern revolving around whether Caddo River, a confirmed front-runner who yielded the lead to him in the Rebel, will be more aggressive in the rematch. Concert Tour did win the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes in February while rating off the early pace, but it would be a surprise if he were not first or second Saturday as the Arkansas Derby field heads through the backstretch. Bob Baffert has won the Arkansas Derby three times, with Bodemeister (2012), Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah (2015), and Nadal (the second division in 2020). Joel Rosario was aboard Nadal for that victory. Owners Gary and Mary West won the 1993 Arkansas Derby with 108-1 longshot Rockamundo.
6. Last Samurai (15-1)
Jockey: Jon Court
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Owner: Willis Horton Racing
Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $67,644
Earnings per start: $16,911
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 84
Kentucky Derby Points: 0
Pedigree: Malibu Moon – Lady Samurai, by First Samurai
Running style: Stalker/closer
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Last Samurai is a good bet to carry the longest odds in the Arkansas Derby field when the starting gate opens. He finished a well-beaten fifth in his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 27 in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, where he stalked the pace and angled out in the stretch for a closing run but came up empty in a race that Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality dominated by 4 ¼ lengths. This son of top sire Malibu Moon won one of three starts as a juvenile and posted mediocre Equibase Speed Figures, and his career-best 84 figure earned in the Southwest is simply not competitive with the rest of the Arkansas Derby field. Last Samurai certainly could improve in his second start of 2021, but even a big jump would only get him a minor award on Saturday if the other starters run to their recent form. Veteran jockey Jon Court won the Arkansas Derby in back-to-back years aboard Line of David (2010) and Archarcharch (2011).