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Posted 2024-03-24 23:12:36  
Top Class Muth Headed for Arkansas Derby

Grade 1 winners Muth and Timberlake were installed the top two wagering choices on the morning line for the $1.5 million G1-Arkansas Derby for 3-year-olds Saturday at Oaklawn.

Muth (8-5) and Timberlake (9-5) were among 10 horses entered Sunday morning in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn’s fourth and final Kentucky Derby points race. The Arkansas Derby, the 12th race, anchors a 13-race program that begins at 12:05 (Central). Probable post time for the Arkansas Derby is 6:47 p.m.

In addition to the Arkansas Derby, there are three other stakes races on the program – $750,000 G2-Fantasy for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, $500,000 G3-Oaklawn Mile for older horses and the $250,000 Matron for older fillies and mares at six furlongs.

The Arkansas Derby could award as many as 200 points to its top five finishers (100-50-25-15-10, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. The race is limited to 20 starters.

The Arkansas Derby field from the rail out: Will Take It, Francisco Arrieta to ride, 121 pounds, 50-1 on the morning line; Timberlake, Flavien Prat, 124, 9-5; Dimatic, Cristian Torres, 121, 20-1; Time for Truth, Rafael Bejarano, 121, 20-1; Liberal Arts, Tyler Gaffalione, 124, 15-1; Informed Patriot, Ricardo Santana Jr., 121, 30-1; Muth, Juan Hernandez, 124, 8-5; Just Steel, Keith Asmussen, 124, 15-1; Mystik Dan, Brian Hernandez Jr., 124, 5-2; and Imperial Gun, Emmanuel Esquivel, 121, 30-1.

Muth will try to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record-tying fifth Arkansas Derby victory. Muth hasn’t started since winning the $200,000 G2-San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs Jan. 6 at Santa Anita. The son of champion Good Magic, unraced outside California, recorded his biggest career victory to date in the $300,000 G1-American Pharoah Oct. 7 at Santa Anita. Muth closed 2023 with a runner-up finish in the $2 million G1-Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

Muth, owing to Baffert’s suspension by Churchill Downs, is ineligible for Kentucky Derby qualifying points and to run in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Trainer Brad Cox bids for his third consecutive Arkansas Derby victory with Timberlake, who launched his 3-year-old campaign with a victory in the $1.25 million G2-Rebel Stakes Feb. 24 at Oaklawn. The 8 ½-furlong Rebel was Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race.

Timberlake concluded 2023 with a victory in the $500,000 G3-Champagne Stakes – a one-turn mile – Oct. 7 at Aqueduct and a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. No trainer has won Oaklawn’s Arkansas Derby three consecutive years.

Mystik Dan, the early third choice, is unraced since a dazzling eight-length victory in Oaklawn’s 1 1/16-miles $800,000 G3-Southwest Stakes Feb. 3. The son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents has been based at Fair Grounds since arctic temperatures, snow and rain forced Oaklawn to cancel 11 days of training (Jan. 13-23). The Southwest was Oaklawn’s second Kentucky Derby points race.

Just Steel and Liberal Arts were second and third, respectively, in the Southwest. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is scheduled to start Rebel fifth-place finisher Dimatic, Imperial Gun and Informed Patriot in search of his fifth Arkansas Derby victory. Informed Patriot finished third in the $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes January 1 The Smarty Jones was Oaklawn’s first Kentucky Derby points race. Smarty Jones winner Catching Freedom returned to win the $1 million G2-Louisiana Derby Saturday at the Fair Grounds for Cox.

New York-bred standout My Mane Squeeze is the 3-1 program favorite for the Fantasy, which will award 200 points to its top five finishers (100-50-25-15-10, respectively) toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks. The Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies, is limited to 14 starters.

Lemon Muffin, Tapit Jenallie and West Omaha finished 1-2-3, respectively, in the $400,000 G3-Honeybee Stakes Feb. 24. The 1 1/16-mile Honeybee was Oaklawn’s final major prep for the Fantasy.


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