2008 Arkansas Derby Recap

Gayego measures rivals in Arkansas Derby to conform status as top Kentucky Derby contender
by Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com

April 12, 2008 Gayego proved we were right about the California horses in the 72nd running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby-G2 on Saturday with a -length victory over Z Fortune. They could have gone around again and the margin of victory would have been the same.

Coming into the race off a hard-fought pace-pressing -length loss to Georgie Boy in the San Felipe-G2 on March 15, Gayego again moved to force the fast pace outside Northern California invader Tres Borrachos after 3/8ths of a mile. After fractions of 22.71 and 46.61, Gayego drew even with Tres Borrachos. The pair got 6 furlongs in 1:11.09 before Gayego started to edge away on the turn. He opened a short but clear lead into the stretch, got the mile in 1:36.95, shook Tres Borrachos for good in mid stretch and had enough fitness left in him to measure rallier Z Fortune. The latter actually took multiple runs at the winner late but was never going to get by. Tres Borrachos dug in to hold third, four lengths back of Z Fortune and 1 -lengths in front of Indian Sun.

The final time for 1 1/8-miles over a track listed as fast was 1:49.63, which translated to the best Derby-prep Beyer Figure of the weekend at 103. The outcome of the race was predictable if you thought the California 3-year-olds were better than their Midwestern and eastern counterparts.

Trained by Paulo Lobo for Cubanacan Stable and ridden by Mike Smith, Gayego was making only his fifth lifetime start, his first start on the dirt and his second start at a route. He broke his maiden sprinting on the synthetic at Hollywood Park in his first start last fall, finished second in an allowance race in December over the Santa Anita synthetic and then won the San Pedro Stakes at Santa Anita on January 20. In his start before the Arkansas Derby, the San Felipe-G2 at Santa Anita, Gayego proved his mettle against two proven stretch battlers, finishing a close second and besting the always game Bob Black Jack.

The 3-year-old by Gilded Time-Devils Lake by Lost Code has enough stamina in his pedigree to get the 1 -miles of the Kentucky Derby and should be one of the fittest horses in the race based on his two tough stamina-building preps. He should improve off his Arkansas Derby win and he looks like he can rate, so he could be the first to pounce when the Derby pacesetters collapse.

The same cant be said for runner-up Z Fortune, who gave his best after a roundabout trip from the outside, but who might be just a cut below the best of his generation at this point. Hes a horse who might be best used in the third and fourth positions of your Derby superfectas. Third-place finisher Tres Borrachos gave it a good shot on the front end but he would get swamped by the high-quality speed expected in the Derby. No one else in the Arkansas Derby did anything of note.

Gayego now sports a career record of 3-2-0 from five starts and earnings of $723,420. He paid an overlay price of $6.40 to his backers. He will be going to Kentucky and he is a definite contender.

Arkansas Derby Results and Payoffs

April 12, 2008 11th Race Oaklawn

4 Gayego $6.40 $4.40 $3.80

10 Z Fortune $7.40 $6.00

2 Tres Borrachos $14.80

11 Indian Sun

$2 Exacta 4-10 paid $44

$1 Superfecta 4-10-2-11 paid $5,534.20