Oaklawn offers stellar Saturday card

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Ted Black

April 14th, 2018

With the Kentucky Derby only three weeks away, many of the top sophomores have already punched their tickets to the run for the roses while several others were looking to get there via Saturday's Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, the highlight of a stellar card there.

Saturday's Arkansas Derby was the final prep for the Kentucky Derby and there is a good chance the top three finishers in Oaklawn's feature will head there. Magnum Moon lived up to his role as the 4-5 favorite when he gained command soon after the start and kept Quip at bay through the first three calls and then edged clear despite ducking out sharply in the lane to score by three lengths in 1:49.86 for the nine panels.

A sophomore son of Malibu Moon trained by Todd Pletcher, Magnum Moon remained perfect in four starts this year and throughout his career and now gives Pletcher a handful of live contenders in the Derby. Magnum Moon was unraced at age two and will have to buck a long tradition dating to Apollo in 1880 to win the Derby without having a race under his belt as a juvenile. Quip held the place spot in a good try and may opt for the Derby although the Preakness is a more likely option.

One race earlier in the Grade II, $750,000 Oaklawn Park Handicap for older horses, City Of Light benefited from patient handling and an honest early tempo, collared favored Accelerate on the far turn and outfought that one through the lane during a prolonged stretch battle to score by a neck in 1:48.26. A four-year-old Quality Road stallion trained by Michael McCarthy, City of Light notched his second win in as many starts this year and now owns four wins and nearly $1 million banked from seven lifetime outings.

One race earlier on the card, Whitmore lived up to his role as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade III, $400,000 Count Fleet Stakes when he rallied from far off the pace by launching a stellar late kick to score by nearly a length in 1:09.77. A five-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding trained by Ron Moquette, Whitmore recorded his second straight stakes victory this year and he now owns 10 wins and $1.5 million banked from 18 lifetime tries. This was his second straight tally in the Count Fleet.