The final major Kentucky Derby prep of the year, the Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby, takes place this Saturday at Oaklawn Park. A field of nine has assembled in search of 170 total Derby points, 100 of which go to the winner. The 1 1/8-mile event goes as Race 11 on a 12-race program; estimated post time is 7:18 p.m. EST. In addition to watching and wagering, feel free to check out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#6 MAGNUM MOON (8-5, morning-line favorite) is the logical choice off his Rebel romp over this course last month. He took over at the top of the stretch and held off SOLOMINI and COMBATANT while widening his lead late. The undefeated (3-for-3) son of Malibu Moon has worked two bullets since and retains Luis Saez, who gets a leg up from Todd Pletcher. MAGNUM MOON should love the stretchout too; the only knock on him is that he gains seven pounds. Nevertheless, he’s the top selection today.
#8 QUIP (9-2) pulled off a big upset in the Tampa Bay Derby, his first start of 2018, last month. He has the right to improve on Saturday and draws outside of his chief competitor, which gives Florent Geroux options. He’ll be the main danger to the favorite with a clean trip.
#5 SOLOMINI (2-1) has shown ample talent, but he still has just one win to his name from five starts. He’ll also have to make up over three lengths on MAGNUM MOON in the Arkansas Derby. He’s not a wise win bet, but SOLOMINI’s four career ITM finishes in graded stakes make him hard to exclude. Flavien Prat rides for Bob Baffert.
#9 COMBATANT (6-1) and #3 TENFOLD (10-1) comprise a strong tandem for Steve Asmussen, who also saddles #4 DREAM BABY DREAM in the Arkansas Derby. The former has picked up checks in four straight starts, all stakes, including the Rebel last time out. He’ll keep circuit-leading pilot Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons. TENFOLD lures Victor Espinoza after winning each of his first two races.
The play: $5 exacta box 6/8, $5 exacta 6,8/5 ($20)
DFJ analysis: As he did last month, Luis Saez has lined up several strong mounts for Saturday at Oaklawn. He’ll get the call on nine different horses, eight of which are at single-digit odds. MAGNUM MOON gives Saez a great chance to take the Arkansas Derby, the premier event of the season at Oaklawn.
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