Arkansas Derby 2020 preview
The horse racing community along with the rest of the world has had to make significant adjustments during the COVID-19 pandemic, none more drastic than the rescheduling of the 146thKentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve from May 2, its traditional “first Saturday in May” spot on the calendar, to Sept. 5.
Shortly after the Kentucky Derby was rescheduled, Oaklawn Park announced that the 84thArkansas Derby would be moved to May 2. Always one of the most important prep races for the Kentucky Derby, this year’s Grade 1 Arkansas Derby took on even more significance following the rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby. Now, the race has been split into two divisions to accommodate an influx of 3-year-olds seeking a prestigious stakes win and to add valuable Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
The 2020 Arkansas Derby will carry a $500,000 purse for each division, and each race will also grant the full 170 qualifying points to the top four finishers, on a scale of 100-40-20-10. With the rest of the Triple Crown series currently in limbo, 22 horses were entered in the two divisions of the Arkansas Derby (two
contenders, one in each division, were early scratches on April 28). The first division is headlined by Bob Baffert-trained Charlatan, who ranks high on many Kentucky Derby future books despite having yet to make his stakes debut. The second division is led by Baffert’s Rebel Stakes winner Nadal and Brad Cox-trained Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby winner Wells Bayou.
This year marks the second time the Arkansas Derby has been run in two divisions, following the 1960 renewal. The race has been won by such notable horses as Nodouble, Elocutionist, Temperence Hill, Sunny’s Halo, Tank’s Prospect, Pine Bluff, Concern, Victory Gallop, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Lawyer Ron, Curlin, Bodemeister, American Pharoah, Classic Empire, and Omaha Beach.
The two divisions of the Arkansas Derby anchor a 14-race closing-day card at Oaklawn Park that also features the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. Watch the Arkansas Derby on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app on Saturday, May 2 from 6-8 p.m. ET.
Before the Arkansas Derby, tune into NBC from 3-6 p.m. ET for a special Kentucky Derby broadcast, which includes The First Saturday In May: American Pharoah’s Run to the Triple Crown, a look back at American Pharoah’s 2015 Derby win en route to his historic Triple Crown, and The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown, a socially distant, computer-simulated edition of the Run for the Roses that pits all 13 Triple Crown winners against each other. The broadcast can also be streamed on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app.
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