Arkansas Derby Offers Big Bucks For 9 Runners

by Greg Melikov

posted on April 8, 2010 in General Discussion, Kentucky Derby, Other Events | No Comments >>

Noble’s Promise is the only horse in the 74th Arkansas Derby guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby, no matter where he finishes on Saturday.

The son of Cuvee is No. 2 in graded stakes earnings behind the horse that  beat him three times, no more than three-quarters of a length in any race. Noble’s Promise, with $708,000 in the bank, last lost to Lookin at Lucky by a head in the Rebel at Oaklawn Park on March 13.

Since that debut on dirt, the colt has been training well. On March 26 at Oaklawn, he breezed five furlongs in 1:02 4/5. On April 3, he covered the same distance in 1:00 4/5, the fastest of 23 workouts.

Noble’s Promise has never been out of the money in seven career starts. He’s 2-1-1 in four stakes races on synthetic surfaces, including a victory last year in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Futurity at Keeneland.

Kenny McPeek decided to take the Arkansas Derby road to Louisville because the race is on dirt. “I thought that running over this track would be comparable to Churchill (Downs),” the trainer said. “He’s run on synthetics repeatedly, and we needed to see how good he was on dirt.”

Surprisingly he is not the morning line favorite in the $1 million Grade 1, but second choice at 2-1.

Super Saver, 25th with graded earnings of $163,832, is 9-5. But he needs to hit the board to make it to the Kentucky Derby field.

Third in the Tampa Bay Derby last month, the son of Maria’s Mon last visited the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs in the fall, when he captured the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

The only other horse among the top 20 graded stakes earners is Dublin, 14th with $273,208, the early third choice at 7-2, off running third in the Rebel. Finishing at least third probably would send him to Louisville, since the runner-up gets $200,000 while third money is worth $100,000.

Place money also would be enough for Uh Oh Bango, 21st with $187,952, fourth in the Rebel following his second to Rule in the $750,000 Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs in December. The son of Top Hit is 15-1.

Others in the nine-horse field need to bank the $600,000 winner’s share to ensure a trip to Kentucky.

Northern Giant, 32nd with $127,000, is the newest player coming off a second-place finish in last month’s Lane’s End at Turfway. The son of Giant’s Causeway, who broke his maiden by 11 lengths at Oaklawn in February, is 8-1.

Pulsion, 37th with $80,000, ran sixth in troublesome trips in both the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. The son of Include, who broke his maiden last fall at Del Mar, is 15-1.

New Madrid, 20-1, won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Oaklawn in March, one start after finishing second to Sunland Park Derby winner Endorsement in a maiden route at Hot Springs in February.

Line of David
, 15-1, broke his maiden and won an allowance contest last fall at Santa Anita, but both victories were on grass.

The last Arkansas Derby champ to capture the Kentucky Derby was Smarty Jones in ’04. Grindstone, runner-up at Oaklawn in ’96, also smelled the roses.