The Arkansas Derby: Our Selections
The Arkansas Derby is a tough race, Classic Empire on his best form should win but there is too much of a question mark on his health and his behavior we have not put him on top. Malagacy is in form and without any of the issues that have plagued Classic Empire.
Classic Empire makes his return to the track as an 8/5 favorite after finishing 3rd in the Holy Bull Stakes. He’s fallen behind in the points race of the 143rd Kentucky Derby, but only needs to finish in the top-four to gain access to the gates at Churchill Downs. More than anything, he has to prove that he was the same horse that ended the 2016 campaign as a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion.
Trying to cut Classic Empire off at the pass will be Malagacy, who holds 2/1 odds as the favorite and is undefeated in three tries. His Rebel Stakes start proved to be pretty strong. There’s reason to believe that the 1/16th miles he’ll cover might be too far in distance but I think he will run it out no problem. The Todd Pletcher trainee is going in to the Kentucky Derby as one of our top 3 for now.
A barrel of other contenders return from the Rebel Stakes, including runner-up Sonneteer, who placed second. Untrapped, Petrov, Silver Dust and Lookin At Lee finished 3rd through 6th and will try their hand at defeating Malagcy. Of those horses, Untrapped is the best overall considering the 1 1/8th mile distance of the 2017 Arkansas Derby.
Completing the field is Rockin Rudy, a longshot from Doug O’Neill who is sired by Midshipman.
It’s almost impossible to bet on Classic Empire returning to form. Malagcy and Untrapped are the two horses I expect for the top-three. A box featuring those three feels like the most logical play, but i am opting for Rockin Rudy as my 3rd.
The Arkansas Derby runs Saturday, April 15th and is the final Kentucky Derby prep race to offer a 100-40-20-10 reward for the top-four finishers for the points race.