Derby Prep Weekend Racing Preview: Arkansas Derby and Lexington Stakes

By | April 10, 2021

The Kentucky Derby comes up in just a few weekends from now as horses are trying to amass enough points in Derby Prep races to make the final field on the first Saturday in May. Two more big stakes races come up on Saturday with the Arkansas Derby and Lexington Stakes. Each race carries crucial qualifying points for the Derby as well as big stakes for the winner.

The Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday, May 1, 2021, and the field is becoming clearer each weekend. This weekend’s action, featuring the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes, could clear things up even further. Horses are running out of chances to get the points necessary to reach the final, so the action should be intense in these contests.

In the following article, we’ll check out the details of both the Lexington Stakes and the Arkansas Derby. We’ll also run through the fields with some quick handicapping tips. And then we’ll give you our betting picks from horse racing betting sites for these prestigious races.

Lexington Stakes Betting Details

  • Where: Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky
  • When: Saturday, Post Time at approximately 5:30 PM Eastern Time
  • Who: Three-year-old horses
  • Track surface: Dirt
  • Distance: 1 1/16 miles
  • Purse: $200,000

Lexington Stakes Contenders

#1 Noble Reflection (Javier Castellano, Richard Balthas) 15-1

Jocker Javier Castellano has two Lexington Stakes victories to his credit. He notched one in 2016 with Collected and another in 2005 with Coin Silver. If he’s to do it with Noble Reflection, he’ll need the horse to overcome some inexperience.

The colt is making just his third career start. He is coming off his maiden win at Oaklawn in his last race, which is a positive. But that was also only six furlongs, so Noble Reflection will need to prove he can take two turns, which seems like a tough go considering the field he’ll be facing.

#2 Swiftsure (Irad Ortiz Jr., Steven Asmussen) 5-1

It’s been 17 years since Asmussen saddled his last Lexington Stakes winner in Quinton’s Gold Rush. He’ll try for his second with Swiftsure, who comes in with an unbeaten record after two career races. Granted, both races were at six furlongs, but at least he’s never tasted defeat.
Swiftsure-Horse
Swiftsure is also dealing with a layoff that is less than ideal, as his last start was all the way back in late January. He’s also new to Keeneland, and this will be his biggest stage to date. Still, the connections and pedigree give some reason for optimism.

#3 Bezos (Drayden Van Dyke, Bob Baffert) 8-1

It’s almost surprising when there is a major stakes race that trainer Bob Baffert has only won once. He captured this race in 2016 with Collected, and now he’s hungry for more. And the Amazon-worthy Bezos gives him a real shot.

Bezos showed excellent improvement from his first start to his second. It’s also encouraging that he took to the mile distance so well in his last race, which lends us to believe he can an extra half-furlong on without any problem. Getting Baffert horses at any kind of betting value is always tough, so Bezos seems a worthy play somewhere on your ticket.

#4 It’s My House (Umberto Rispoli, Robert Hess Jr.) 30-1

The good news for this long shot is that he is coming off a stakes victory at Turf Paradise. And he did so at a distance of 1 1/16 miles, the same span he’ll be covering in this one. But other than that, there are some real issues with It’s My House in terms of him competing in this one.

First of all, the caliber of competition is a big step up from previous races at Golden Gate and Turf Paradise. And he’ll also need to prove that he can still step up after that peak victory last time out. Hit’s My House probably isn’t ready for this kind of challenge.

#5 Unbridled Honor (Julien LeParoux, Todd Pletcher) 10-1

The connections have great history in this US horse race. LeParoux rode three Lexington Stakes winners in a five-year span in the early 2010s. And Pletcher, trainer of Unbridled Honor, saddled five Lexington winners from 2005 to 2013.

If they’re to do it again, Unbridled Honor will have to use the experience he gained in the Tampa Bay Derby as a springboard. Even though he only finished fourth, it was a Grade 2, which gives him a bit of an edge over some of the class-lacking horses in here. He should be one of the ones to watch.

#6 Hockey Dad (Mario Gutierrez, Doug O’Neill) 8-1

You can’t say that Hockey Dad isn’t properly tuned up for this start. He has already raced four times in 2021. That stretch included three straight wins at Santa Anita, two of which came in back-to-back weeks.

He received a taste of graded stakes action with a 3rd at Turf Paradise in a Grade 3 in his last start. It seems like the distance of 1 1/16 miles should fit nicely into his comfort zone. Look for him to have a legitimate shot at a nice price.

#7 Proxy (John Velazquez, Michael Stidham) 6-5

Every one of Proxy’s races as a three-year-old have come in graded stakes competition. And they’ve all been contested at a distance of longer than a mile. In other words, nothing should be too new for him when lines up on Saturday.
Proxy-Horse
That familiarity has a lot to do why he is a pretty solid favorite on the morning line. The logic is that he’ll be the big dog in this field instead of just being one of the pack. But Proxy has to prove that he’s more than a near-miss type.

#8 Ultimate Badger (Corey Lanerie, Dale Romans) 15-1

This is another horse that’s been relatively busy in the early part of his career. He has already logged eight races under his belt since debuting with a win at Ellis Park last September. One concern is that Ultimate Badger has won only one since then, although it was at this distance in an optional claimer at Churchill in January.

The colt shortened back up for his last two races. But now he stretches out once again, hoping to find the right niche for his running style. It feels like Ultimate Badger just might be a notch below graded stakes caliber at this point in his development.

#9 King Fury (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenneth McPeek) 10-1

McPeek has one win under his belt as trainer in this race, winning with Senior Investment in 2017. King Fury comes into this one off a pretty severe layoff. This will be his first race since November.

Expecting workouts to freshen a horse up for a race this stout seems like a big leap. Not to mention that the two-year-old record of King Fury wasn’t all that impressive, even with solid graded stakes experience. You can probably pass on him in this one.

#10 Starrininmydreams (Luis Saez, Dallas Stewart) 6-1

This colt got off to a nice start in his career, winning a pair at Churchill Downs as a two-year-old. He even stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for one of them. But his three-year-old performance has trailed off.
Starrininmydreams-Horse
In two graded stakes in Louisiana, he has lackluster ninth and fifth-place finishes. Maybe a change of scenery back to Kentucky will help. The morning line seems to think Starrininmydreams will be a factor in here.

Lexington Stakes Pick

  • Win: #3 Bezos
  • Place: #7 Proxy
  • Show: #6 Hockey Dad

Arkansas Derby Betting Details

  • Where: Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • When: Saturday, April 10, 2021, Post Time at approximately 7:41 PM Eastern Time
  • Who: Three-year-old horses
  • Track Surface: Dirt
  • Distance: 1 1/8 miles
  • Purse: $1,000,000

Arkansas Derby Contenders

#1 Super Stock (Ricardo Santana Jr., Steven Asmussen) 12-1

Asmussen has enjoyed a lot of success in this race, winning four times going back all the way to 2002 for his first. And Santana snapped up a victory in the one of the two Arkansas Derby splits last year with Basin. In Super Stock, they have a horse with interesting second start off the layoff potential.

Granted, in his lone start this year, he finished behind Concert Tour and Hozier, two of the horses he’ll be facing on Saturday. Look for Super Stock improve and get closer to the form that he showed with a third in the Breeders’ Cup Futurity. But it probably won’t be enough for anything better than a second.

#2 Caddo River (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox) 7-2

This colt was riding high heading into the Rebel Stakes, with two straight wins at a mile. But the extra sixteenth of a mile seemed to throw him. Caddo River finished fifth in that race, behind three of the horses here.
Caddo-River-Horse
The morning-line odds seem to anticipate a bounce-back performance. But the problem is that Caddo River has to stretch out even farther in this one. You can probably throw him out, despite what the odds suggest.

#3 Hozier (Martin Garcia, Bob Baffert) 4-1

Baffert has three training wins in the Arkansas Derby, including last year with Nadal before injuries befell him. He took a big step and fought hard in the Rebel in his last start. Hozier lost to his stablemate in that one.

How will we take the extra sixteenth of a mile in this one? This horse is still on the rise. When there are so many great horses in the barn, one like Hozier could get overlooked, but Saturday could be his day to shine.

#4 Get Her Number (Francisco Arrieta, Peter Miller) 20-1

The odds are kind of long for a horse who has a Grade 1 win under his belt in his career. Granted, the triumph by Get Her Number came last September at Santa Anita. But it’s still on his permanent record, which means he is a capable fellow.

The concern is the clunker he turned in at the Rebel, finishing seventh. But he is another one who needed a start. Get Her Number should improve, but this is a tough field for him to leapfrog.

#5 Concert Tour (Joel Rosario, Bob Baffert) 3-5

It seems like there is a top Triple Crown contender in every region in the country. Meet the Southwest version. Concert Tour has come out firing in his career, winning all three starts, all of which were this year.
Concert-Tour-Horse
The first two were at Baffert’s home base in California, but Concert Tour left the friendly confines and looked great at Oaklawn in the Rebel. In that race, he stretched out and beat several of the foes he’ll be facing in this one. This is a deserving favorite who will be very tough to handle.

#6 Last Samurai (Jon Court, Dallas Stewart) 30-1

Court is trying to catch some of the magic of Arkansas Derbies past. He won this race in back to back years back in 2010 and 2011. If he’s to do it with Last Samurai, it will be a real stunner.

This colt’s only start was a listless fifth in a Grade 3 back in February. He hasn’t won since back in September, and that was at seven furlongs. It doesn’t look good for Last Samurai in his one.

Arkansas Derby Pick

  • Win: #5 Concert Tour
  • Place: #1 Super Stock
  • Show: #4 Get Her Number

The post Derby Prep Weekend Racing Preview: Arkansas Derby and Lexington Stakes appeared first on GamblingSites.ORG.

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