Mucciolo: How to Bet the Arkansas Derby

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April 13th, 2018

Nine sophomores will hope to punch their Kentucky Derby ticket when contesting the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.

#1 BEAUTIFUL SHOT – Longshot gets a nice rail draw for a second start of 2018. Keith Desormeaux trainee was beaten by 29 lengths in the Gotham (G3) most recently and would need a world of improvement to make noise in here.

#2 MACHISMO – Fountain of Youth (G2) fourth stopped at the top of the lane in the Blue Grass (G2) last week and wheels back quickly for conditioner Anthony Quartarolo. Son of More Than Ready is better than he showed at Keeneland but a stretch in a top-heavy cast.

#3 TENFOLD – Interesting son of Curlin was a fine maiden winner at first asking here in February and followed that score with a game allowance win last out. Steve Asmussen trainee defeated a nice colt and looks like a solid prospect going forward. Victor Espinoza will be in the silks, which is intriguing.

#4 DREAM BABY DREAM – Asmussen pupil made a good late run to be second in the Sunland Park Derby (G3) most recently, his first run since donning blinkers. Bay son of Into Mischief was third in a trio of allowance races earlier in the meeting at Oaklawn and needs a lifetime-best performance to make noise late.

#5 SOLOMINI – Talented Bob Baffert trainee has never finished out of the money while facing the best of his generation. Three-time Grade-1 placed son of Curlin was second in his seasonal debut in the Rebel S. (G2) here and should benefit from having a run over the surface. Long-striding sophomore smoked a bullet six panels in preparation of today’s race and is a prime win contender under regular pilot Flavien Prat.

#6 MAGNUM MOON – Unbeaten favorite from the Todd Pletcher barn was much the best when coming home 3 ½ lengths in front in the Rebel and looms a huge chance with an excellent post draw. Son of Malibu Moon has yet to be seriously challenged and is versatile in his running style, capable from on or off the pace. Bay colt retains pilot Luis Saez and will always be forwardly positioned.  

#7 PLAINSMAN – Bill Van Meter charge exits a third-place showing with allowance foes and would be a surprise at this stage of his development. Bay son of Flatter needs markedl improvement to be considered for the exotics.

#8 QUIP – Tampa Bay Derby (G2) hero is three-for-four lifetime and started his 2018 campaign in style when defeating a nice field in Florida. Rodolphe Brisset pupil skipped last week’s Blue Grass for this assignment and his gate presence will find him on the lead, or forcing the pace from the break. Distorted Humor colt looms large with expected improvement

#9 COMBATANT – One of three from the Asmussen barn, son of Scat Daddy has yet to break through at the graded level but has placed in two straight, both at Oaklawn Park. Kentucky-bred draws widest but has a nice turn of foot and likely will be in the running down the lane.


The Arkansas Derby appears to be a four-horse race, and I am siding with Magnum Moon. Impressive sophomore has won as he has wished in every start to this point and I expect him to move forward today with another convincing tally.

Quip exits a ‘key race’ of sorts. He was flattered when Vino Rosso bagged the Wood Memorial (G2) and Flameaway was a strong second in the Blue Grass last week.

Solomini always fires and has never crossed the line worse than second while facing top-quality runners. And Combatant is ultra-consistent with a lot of experience on the main oval at Oaklawn.


$2 Superfecta: 6 with 5,8,9 with 5,8,9 with all = $72

50-cent Superfecta: 6 with 5,8,9 with all with 5,8,9 = $18