2013 Kentucky Derby prep race – The 2013 Arkansas Derby

The $1 million Arkansas Derby will held at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The race is headlined by War Academy, coming off an impressive victory in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Santa Anita on March 15, and Oxbow (No. 13), runner-up to stablemate Will Take Charge in the Rebel.

As part of the Road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby Series, points will be awarded to the Top 4 finishers in the Arkansas Derby on a 100 for first, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth scale.

Here are some notes from a Churchill Downs press release:

War Academy, co-owned by 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Michael Tabor, is trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, who has won with 14 of his last 23 starters at Oaklawn Park. Baffert won last year’s Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister, who went on to finish second in the Kentucky Derby behind I’ll Have Another. Bodemeister was ridden in the Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby by Mike Smith, who will be aboard War Academy on Saturday.

Baffert also will saddle Den’s Legacy (No. 18) in the Arkansas Derby. Den’s Legacy most recently finished third in the Rebel. With 20 points, Den’s Legacy likely will earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby with a Top 3 finish, but War Academy, who has yet to earn points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” will need to finish in the Top 2 to earn a Derby spot.

Oxbow, trained by four-time Kentucky Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas, won the Lecomte (GIII) at Fair Grounds prior to running fourth in the Risen Star (GII) and second in the Rebel. Oxbow currently sits “on the bubble” with 36 points and likely would firm up a Kentucky Derby spot with a Top 4 finish. Oxbow will break from the outside in post 10 and will be guided by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. Lukas and Stevens teamed to win the 1985 Arkansas Derby with Tank’s Prospect. Other top contenders in the Arkansas Derby include Overanalyze (No. 26) and Falling Sky (No. 19).

Overanalyze won the Remsen by a nose in the final start of his 2-year-old campaign and then finished a disappointing fifth as the 8-5 favorite in the Gotham in his 3-year-old debut. He is trained by Todd Pletcher, who won back-to-back runnings of the Arkansas Derby in 2000-01, and likely will need a Top 2 or 3 finish to gain a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

Falling Sky began his sophomore season with a narrow victory over Dynamic Sky (No. 25) in the Sam F. Davis and then finished third in the Tampa Bay Derby. With 20 points, Falling Sky likely would secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby with a Top 3 finish.

The Arkansas Derby has produced five winners of the Kentucky Derby, most recently Super Saver in 2010. The last to complete the Arkansas Derby–Kentucky Derby double was Smarty Jones in 2004.