Joe Santos on the Arkansas Derby

By Joe Santos (@joesantos_33 on Twitter)

photos by @Rblifeisgood

Today’s $1 Million Dollar G1 Arkansas Derby is headlined by Todd Pletcher’s undefeated colt Magnum Moon. The last major Derby prep of the year has not disappointed with a talent field of 9 to line up for a shot at glory and a ticket to Louisville Kentucky for the First Saturday in May

(1) Beautiful Shot, trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden today for the first time by Richard Eramia, comes off a disappointing effort in his 3 year old debut in the GIII Gotham at Aqueduct on March 10th. In the Gotham he was checked at the 3/8th pole and stopped hard from there. Prior to that effort, Beautiful Shot, showed good promise defeating the likes of Nero and Mourinho in his first to career starts. I like that Desormeaux comes right back in the GI Arkansas Derby for Beautiful Shot’s second start of the year. Keith Desormeaux must always be respected to grab a piece when making this move.

(2) Machismo is coming back off just a week Return when running a disappointing race in the GII Blue Grass Stakes. Anthony Quartrolo and Scott Spieth will team up today for a final try to earn a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. I expect early speed from the talented Machismo today and we will see how far he can carry it.

(3) Tenfold has been extremely impressive thus far in his short career, winning both starts. He’s comes into this race working great for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who will be teaming up with Victor Espinoza for a shot at the Run for the Roses. I believe another step forward will put him right in the running for the win slot and he offers great value today. Tenfold will be my longshot pick.

(4) Dream Baby Dream, the second of the Asmussen trio in the Arkansas Derby, is coming off a 2 3/4 length defeat in the GIII Sunland Park Derby. Ridden today by Luis Contreras, Dream Baby Dream will try his best to come closing late. He had every shot to close into a very hot pace last time that I don’t think he will get today.

(5) Solomini is the Baffert invader today, which historically would be the way to go in this race. Flavien Prat ships on today for the mount. Solomini is the only GI winner of the group and has never been out of the top two. This is his second start of the year, his last being a runner up effort to Magnum Moon in the Rebel here at Oaklawn last month. Personally, I am not a fan of his stride. It is very inefficient, but he always comes with a big race and his defeats have come to the hands of Bolt D’Oro, Good Magic and Magnum Moon, so he must be respected.

The undefeated (6) Magnum Moon seems to keep getting better and better. Pletcher and Saez come into this race looking to go 4 for 4 together with this colt. He comes into this race off great works and seek tone heading the right way. I love him in here and as well in the Kentucky Derby. The pick.

(7) Plainsman will make his stakes debut for Will Van Meter and CJ McMahon today in the GI Arkansas Derby. Plainsman is coming off a 3rd place finish in the same race the Tenfold won last time out. He will need to take another step forward to make an impact in this race, but the son of Flatter has talent and should be sitting right off the speed in hopes of kicking home strongly.

(8) Quip is the feel good story of this year’s Derby. Rodolphe Brisset is on a fairytale ride to the Kentucky Derby. Ridden again today by Florent Geroux, Quip will try to make his second start of the year a winning one like he did in the GII Tampa Bay Derby. That all being said, I’m not much of a fan of his. I think he will need to step forward to beat this group. I could see him running under, but all together I don’t have much respect for his company lines.

(9) Combatant, the third of the Asmussen trio, comes into today race off a third place finish in the GII Rebel last time out at Oaklawn. Ridden today by Asmussen’s go to rider Ricardo Santana Jr., they will make a lady stitch effort at the Kentucky Derby. Combatant is a grinder who seems to always have enough to come on for the minor awards, which is the best I could see him doing today.


(6) Magnum Moon

(3) Tenfold

(5) Solomini

(1) Beautiful Shot

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