2015 Arkansas Derby Picks and Analysis
American Pharoah out to prove he’s a Kentucky Derby horse in Arkansas Derby
2015 Arkansas Derby-G1, Race 11, Oaklawn Park, Saturday, April 11, 2015
3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8-miles, Dirt, Purse: $1 Million
Arkansas Derby Predictions
1. American Pharoah
2. Far Right
3. The Truth Or Else
4. Bold Conquest
Arkansas Derby Analysis
American Pharoah gets his final prep for the Kentucky Derby today in the
79th running of the Arkansas Derby-G1 and once again it’s a case of can’t
bet on him at 1-2 and can’t bet against him. But he will certainly entertain
you if he’s on his game. We just want to know if he can give stablemate
Dortmund a run for the money in the Kentucky Derby, although we will play
some exotic wagers just so we can have some action on the race.
Trained by Bob Baffert, who won the Arkansas Derby in 2012 with Bodemeister,
American Pharoah has more raw talent than any horse in this year’s renewal
of Oaklawn Park’s signature race. The champion 2-year-old of 2014 has won
three in a row and in his last he looked like a bid kid playing in a field
and running away from his mates without trying. Like the kid who dominates
in junior, ready to make his move to the big leagues.
American Pharoah has the best numbers by far, but he does have a few questions
to answer in this race. He has to prove he can go 1 1/8-miles in just his
second start off the layoff and he might have to prove he can win without
the lead. Most importantly, will he fight to win, as his stablemate Dortmund
Trying to get a read on American Pharoah could be tough in this race, as
he might have enough class speed to wire the field as he did in the sloppy
Rebel Stakes-G2 on March 14 at Oaklawn going 1 /16-miles. There is some
other minor league speed in here in the form of Mr. Z and Bridget’s Big
Luvy, but certainly nothing serious, and he does have the pedigree to get
the 1 1/8-miles with top jockey Victor Espinoza aboard.
Mr. Z has some class but he’s an impossible horse to figure out. An erratic
in-and-outer, he finished ninth beaten over 20 lengths for Hall of Fame
trainer D. Wayne Lukas in his last start and now gets the blinkers back
on. That should have him showing more speed and he is probably quite a bit
fitter than American Pharoah at this point.
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If American Pharoah forces the pace outside Mr. Z and has to work to get
by him, the race could set up for Far Right. The latter has done everything
asked of him in his last two starts, winning both the Smarty Jones and the
Southwest Stakes-G3 at Oaklawn Park, and while his numbers are lower than
those of American Pharoah, he could get a nice trip behind the speed and
he will rally late.
We certainly can’t fault you if you want to take a shot on Far Right at
likely overlay odds of better than 3-1, but he will need some help up front,
as will anything else in here.
The Truth Or Else made a huge move in the Southwest Stakes to finish second
but came back to get drilled by American Pharoah in the Rebel Stakes. He
does have some good works coming into this race and gets blinkers on. If
there’s a sleeper in here for the exotics it could be this horse with rail-riding
Calvin Borel in the irons. Borel won this race in 1993.
We thought Bold Conquest ran a good race in his comebacker to finish fourth
in the Southwest Stakes but he too was beaten 8 3/4-lengths by American
Pharoah in the Rebel. Both of his starts this year have been in the slop
however, and he might run better if the track is fast on Saturday.
The last horse we’ll mention is Madefromlucky, the second-place finisher
in American Pharoah’s Rebel Stakes, beaten 6 1/4-lengths. His numbers are
moving in the right direction and trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race
four times, including the last two years in a row. Madefromlucky was trying
stakes company for the first time in the Rebel so he fits the angle of second
time back after running a good race on the class raise. Pletcher’s horses
tend to improve, at least until they reach their talent level on their own,
before regressing, and this horse may still have another notch in him.
If American Pharoah gets the lead by himself in here and slows it down,
he’ll be extremely tough to beat. If you’re going to bet against him, you’ll
have to hope something runs with him on the turn and at least takes some
starch out of him. The chances of that happening are probably slim, but
his odds will be too low to make him playable with questions to answer.
The best way to play this race is to watch it. If you want to make small
action bets and hope something crazy happens, play Far Right first and second
in the exactas, trifectas and superfectas with The Truth or Else, Mr. Z,
Madefromlucky, Bold Conquest and American Pharoah and hope the latter runs
out of the top three.
And if the The Truth Or Else goes off at 15-1 or better, make a small win-place
bet on him and use him up and down as a crazy longshot in a few $1 exactas,
just to give you something exciting to cheer for.