The Kentucky Derby is now just three short weeks away. In recent weeks, several horses have established their credentials to go forward to Louisville, while still others remain on the outside looking in. There are now precious few opportunities to get into the gate for the Derby. One of those is at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby, the culmination of the Racing Festival Of The South. Here is the analysis:
Of the horses in this field, likely only #5 Secret Circle is a lock to make the Derby field, should his connections elect to go that far. Speaking of going that far, that has always been the concern with this horse. How far can he go? The fact remains that if he keeps winning as these races get longer, then he certainly can go this far. Secret Circle will likely be forwardly placed in the Arkansas Derby, as will #11 Bodemeister. One of these horses will likely be the favorite on Saturday. However, since they have similar running styles, the possibility is there that these horses could burn each other out with some serious speed. So, if that happens and the two favorites fade away, who picks up the slack? I think that #6 Isn't He Clever certainly can be a winner here. His workouts are stellar with two recent bullet workouts. Blinkers are coming off this gelding for this try. #7 Optimizer made an impressive run to get second money in the Rebel at Oaklawn on March 17. However, he also didn't run a step in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds the time before. Which horse will show up? #8 Sabercat did earn enough money in the Delta Jackpot to ensure a Derby place, but he has only run once since that win and his eighth in the Rebel really doesn't inspire confidence for his chances, especially when it comes to the Derby in three weeks. I had been high on #3 Najjaar in the Rebel, but he never really got going until it was way too late and ended up a closing sixth. Maybe Calvin Borel won't wait until it's hopelessly late to get him rolling.
THE PICK: #6 Isn't He Clever (6-1)
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