Bob Baffert already has Game Winner and Roadster set for the Kentucky Derby and Improbable can make it a formidable trio with an impressive showing in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park. Listed as the 8-5 favorite in an 11-horse field, Improbable exits a neck second in the first division of the March 16 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn and the chestnut son of City Zip will receive a rider switch to Jose Ortiz.
Omaha Beach comes next on the morning line at 2-1 and Mike Smith rides the up-and-coming colt, who made his stakes debut a winning one with a nose score over two-year-old champion Game Winner in the second division of the Rebel. Smith also rides Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster and will be forced to choose between the two if Omaha Beach runs big. Richard Mandella trains the son of War Front.
As a major final prep race in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby will award points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers. Improbable needs a top three finish, currently ranking 26th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 25 points, and Omaha Beach must add to his 37.5-point ledger or will drop outside the top 20 (currently 19th).
Improbable will start from the rail and Omaha Beach appears favorably drawn in post 3.
Long Range Toddy is already safely in the Kentucky Derby field with 53.5 points, winning the first division of the Rebel and Remington Springboard Mile in December. He’s also placed in an additional pair of qualifiers, the Southwest (G3) and Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, and has been pegged as the early 5-1 third choice in the Arkansas Derby. The well-bred son of Take Charge Indy displayed outstanding push-button acceleration last time and Jon Court retains the mount for Steve Asmussen.
Asmussen will also be represented by a trio of outsiders in Jersey Agenda, Laughing Fox and Tikhvin Flew.
Galilean will return from Southern California after a third in the first division of the Rebel and Flavien Prat accompanies the Jerry Hollendorfer pupil. Country House, who finished second in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds two back, will try to show more for Bill Mott after a well-beaten fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and Joel Rosario will take over piloting duties. Gray Attempt brings high speed to the equation following a wire-to-wire win in the six-furlong Gazebo on March 23.