Edited Oaklawn Park Release — It’s official. The girl will be taking on the boys for the first time in the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles April 2 at Oaklawn.
Multiple stakes winner Secret Oath was among nine horses entered Sunday for the Arkansas Derby, which is Oaklawn’s final major prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1). The Arkansas Derby will go as the 12th of 13 races, with probable post time 6:35 p.m. (CT). First post April 2 is noon.
The Arkansas Derby will offer 170 points (100-40-20-10, respectively) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters.
Secret Oath, who drew post 6, has dominated 3-year-old fillies at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting, winning her three starts by a combined 23 lengths for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and breeder/owner Briland Farm (Robert and Stacy Mitchell).
After securing a spot in the Kentucky Oaks – the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies – with a 7 ½-length victory in the Honeybee Stakes (G3) Feb. 26, Lukas began targeting the Arkansas Derby, which he won in 1984 and 1985.
Lukas won the 1984 Arkansas Derby with Althea, a week after she finished second in the Fantasy. Lukas finished third in the 1986 Arkansas Derby with another filly, Family Style, a week after she finished fourth in the Fantasy. Althea and Family Style were both Eclipse Award winners at 2. He won the 1985 edition with Tank’s Prospect.
The projected Arkansas Derby field from the rail out:
Kavod, Mitchell Murrill to ride, 122 pounds; Chasing Time, Jose Lezcano, 122; Barber Road, Reylu Gutierrez, 122; Doppelganger, John Velazquez, 122; Un Ojo, Ramon Vazquez, 122; Secret Oath, Luis Contreras, 117; Ben Diesel, Jon Court, 122; Cyberknife, Florent Geroux, 122; and We the People, Flavien Prat, 122.
Barber Road had his final workout for the Arkansas Derby over a fast track Sunday morning for trainer John Ortiz.
Barber Road breezed after the surface renovation break, covering a half-mile in :49.40 under exercise rider Elexander Aguilar. Clockers caught Barber Road in :25.20 for his opening quarter and galloping out 5 furlongs in 1:01.80. Barber Road worked by himself Sunday after breezing in company leading up to his prior starts this year.
“We were just doing maintenance work with him,” Ortiz said. “He’s more than fit. He’s run over this course three times already. We drilled him pretty hard going into his last race. We know he can get the distance; we know he’s fit as can be and there nothing else that I can do, except to just keep him happy and on his toes. It’s funny. Turning him around to go to his workout, he gave us a little Lipizzan leap in front of the grandstand. So, he’s on his toes.”
Barber Road, who races for former Walmart executive William Simon, was breezing for the second time since finishing third, beaten a half-length, in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 26. The Rebel was Oaklawn’s final major prep for the Arkansas Derby.
The consistent Barber Road finished second in Oaklawn’s first two Kentucky Derby points races – $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at 1 mile Jan. 1 and $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 29 – and has never finished worse than fourth in his seven-race career. Barber Road ranks 17th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 18 points, according to Churchill Downs. A top four finish in the Arkansas Derby likely would secure Barber Road a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Also returning from the Rebel are Un Ojo, Kavod, Chasing Time and Ben Diesel, the 1-4-5-8 finishers, respectively, while We the People is unbeaten in two career starts at the meeting for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. Cyberknife was a sharp allowance winner Feb. 19 at Fair Grounds in his last start for two-time reigning Eclipse Award winner Brad Cox.
The Southern California-based Doppelganger had been with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert – a four-time Arkansas Derby winner – before being moved earlier this week to Tim Yakteen, a former assistant. Doppelganger exits a runner-up finish in his two-turn debut, the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2), March 5 at Santa Anita.
Call Me Jamal, a two-time winner at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting, wasn’t entered in the Arkansas Derby after emerging from a 6-furlong work Sunday morning with a physical issue.
In addition to the Arkansas Derby and $600,000 Fantasy (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, post positions also were drawn Sunday for two other April 2 stakes races – $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for older horses and the $200,000 Carousel for fillies and mares at 6 furlongs.
A third stakes race scheduled April 2, the $150,000 Temperence Hill for older horses at 1 ½ miles, will be brought back April 3 after not filling.
Dream Lith, Magic Circle, Eda and Yuugiri were among nine entered in the Fantasy.