Ride On Curlin had his last major drill Sunday in preparation for his expected start in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) this coming Saturday. The son of 2007 Arkansas Derby winner Curlin breezed seven furlongs in 1:26 4/5 over the fast track with exercise rider Brian Beccia on board.
"He worked really good," said trainer Billy Gowan, a former assistant of Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg. "It was the same type of work he had before the Rebel. He started out slow and finished fast. I do know he's really good right now. He's perfect."
Ride On Curlin, third in both the Southwest and Rebel Stakes, is one of six definite starters for the Arkansas Derby. The others are Bayern, Strong Mandate, Tapiture, Commissioner and Conquest Titan. Danza is possible.
With Gary Stevens in the saddle, Bayern worked seven furlongs from the gate in company Sunday morning over Santa Anita's fast dirt in a bullet 1:23 4/5.
Bayern, one of three possible Kentucky Derby candidates for trainer Bob Baffert along with Hoppertunity and Midnight Hawk, will be making his stakes bow in the Arkansas Derby. The Offlee Wild colt took his maiden debut by 3 1/4 lengths on January 4 and then captured a one-mile allowance by 15 lengths on February 13.
Trainer Todd Pletcher's duo of Commissioner and Danza each breezed a half-mile at Palm Meadows Sunday morning, posting an identical time of :49.05 on the fast main track. Commissioner exits a troubled third in the March 23 Sunland Derby, where he bobbled at the start. Danza, third in last summer's Saratoga Special, was a distant third in his comeback in a March 1 allowance at Gulfstream.
The post-position draw for Arkansas Derby and Grade 2, $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap will be Wednesday 12:30 p.m. (CDT) on the first floor of Oaklawn's grandstand.