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2014 Arkansas Derby

Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn

CurlinWe’re 3 weeks out from the first Saturday in May and just like me, I’m sure you have been bitten by the Derby bug! Last weekend’s races were fantastic. California Chrome did not disappoint and won the Santa Anita Derby like there was nothing to it, while at the Wood Memorial, Wicked Strong pulled off an upset over Samraat and the last week’s “buzz” horse, Social Inclusion. There are only 2 more 100 point races left and they are up on deck for this Saturday. If you are unfamiliar with the Kentucky Derby Points System, there’s never been a better time to check out our page dedicated to it here- 2014 Kentucky Derby Points System. The Arkansas Derby was inaugurated in 1936 and since its inception, we have seen some fine talent come out of this race such as Pine Bluff, Victory Gallop, Smarty Jones and Curlin to name a few. Let’s see what talents will emerge this year!

The Arkansas Derby

Strong MandateThe $1,000,000 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby is the 11th race on the card at Oaklawn on Saturday and will host a field of 9 three year olds traveling 1 1/8 mile. The 9/5 morning line favorite is Tapiture. Tapiture won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes back in February and followed that race up with a 2nd place finish behind Hoppertunity in the Grade 2 Rebel back in March. There is no doubt that the Steve Asmussen trained colt is a major threat in this race. He will also have Joel Rosario in the irons which is always a plus, but since he is the favorite, I have to pass on him. 2/1 on the ML is the lightly raced Bayern, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Gary Stevens. In his only 2 races, Bayern has proven to be a beast winning both of them, his last outing by 15 lengths! Ride On CurlinBut is he ready for the competition in this field? I’m not so sure. It concerns me that Stevens will be the jockey, simply because of Candy Boy’s performance in the Santa Anita Derby. It doesn’t look like Candy boy will make the cut for the Kentucky Derby, so if Bayern can get the win here or even a second place finish, Stevens will have his mount for the first Saturday in May. We all know how motivated the veteran jockey is, and with such a talented young colt like Bayern, he’s definitely a threat. But I have two value plays that I believe are going to get there. The first is Strong Mandate at 9/2 on the morning line. The “Coach”, D. Wayne Lukas needs a Derby horse and Strong Mandate is the one. I’ve liked Strong Mandate since last year and I am hopeful that he is ready to start maturing in this race. He gets Luis Saez in the irons, another plus in my book. The second value play is Ride On Curlin. Again this is another contender I would love to see follow in his Daddy’s hoof prints and I have touted him before. He has put up some strong finishes in his last few outings, especially after getting bumped around in the Rebel. Good luck guys and gals!

 

 

 

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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at HandicapHorseRacing.com and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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