Cupid installed as 2-1 favorite in 12-horse Arkansas Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

April 13th, 2016

After shipping to capture his stakes debut in the Rebel (G2), Cupid returns to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) and the Tapit colt will be trying to enhance his Kentucky Derby (G1) credentials against 11 rivals in the 1 1/8-mile event.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will be seeking his third Arkansas Derby win, scoring last year with Triple Crown hero American Pharaoh and the 2012 edition with Bodemeister, and Cupid is listed as the prohibitive 2-1 morning line favorite with regular rider Martin Garcia.

The gray sophomore needed three starts to break his maiden, breaking through in his two-turn bow on February 7, and Cupid will be seeking his third consecutive victory. He breaks from post 10.

Rebel and Southwest (G3) runner-up Whitmore comes next on the morning line at 9-2. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be back to guide the Ron Moquett-trained gelding and Whitmore drew well in post 8.

Southwest winner Suddenbreakingnews will try to make amends for a troubled trip in the Rebel that resulted in a fifth-place showing. Conditioned by Donnie Von Hemel, the 5-1 third choice retains the services of Luis Quinonez.

Dazzling Gem opened his racing career with a pair of wins at Oaklawn and is eligible to show more following a third in his first stakes attempt, the Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26. Joe Talmo will take over the reins for Brad Cox. American Pioneer is making a steep jump from a smart maiden special weight victory and the Wayne Catalano trainee receives a jockey switch to Rafael Bejarano.

Rebel third-placer Creator brings a confirmed closing style to his second stakes outing for Steve Asmussen. Grade 3-placed Unbridled Outlaw is making his second start of 2016 for Dale Romans after finishing second in a March 19 allowance at Oaklawn, and four-time Arkansas Derby winner Todd Pletcher will be represented by Gettysburg, who exits a runner-up in a lucrative Sunland Park stakes race but must overcome the far outside post.

Rounding out the field are Smarty Jones upsetter Discreetness, who needs to show more after finishing seventh in the Southwest and Rebel; last-out allowance scorer Luna de Loco; local allowance winner Cutacorner, unplaced in the Southwest and Rebel; and maiden winner Gray Sky.

Cupid photo courtesy of Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography