Kentucky Derby Prep: Arkansas Derby 2023 Preview, Odds, and Pick (Apr 1)

By · 69 days ago
  • Oaklawn Park hosts the Arkansas Derby on Saturday
  • 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points will be awarded to the winner

Significant action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby takes place this weekend, as Oaklawn hosts the Arkansas Derby 2023. Three previous winners of the race have gone on to land the opening Triple Crown, including 2005 winner American Pharoah.

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The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes us to Oaklawn this weekend, as a wide-open Arkansas Derby could give us insights with the race at Churchill Downs in mind. A field of eleven will compete in the Grade 1 this year, including moneyline favorite Reincarnate.

Schedule and How To Watch

  • When: Saturday, April 1, 2023, at 7:50 p.m ET
  • Where: Oaklawn Park, Arkansas   
  • Distance: 1 1/8 miles
  • Grade: Grade 1
  • Kentucky Derby Qualifying Points: 100-40-30-20-10
  • How To Watch: FanDuel TV

Arkansas Derby 2023 Odds

Red Route One+300
Rocket Can+400
Angel of Empire+450
Two Eagles River+1000
Bourbon Bash+1500
Interlock Empire+2000
King Russell+3000

Latest odds taken from offshore site. Check back to see the latest Vegas Odds at a later date.

Race Preview

The betting for the G1 Arkansas Derby is intriguing. Former Bob Baffert-trained runner Reincarnate heads the betting, now representing the stable of Tim Yakteen. The three-year-old landed the G3 Sham in fine style in January, holding off Newgate and National Treasure. However, he was beaten by Confidence Game in the G2 Rebel Stakes over 1 1/16 at Oaklawn last time out.

Reincarnate broke poorly in the Rebel, but Red Route One still finished ahead of him and merits respect. The runner for Steve Asmussen will have blinkers for the first time this weekend, and that should spark a quicker start. The start has hampered his chances on both of his previous starts, which include seconds behind Arabian Knight in the G3 Southwest and Confidence Game in the G2 Rebel.

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I struggle to understand Angel of Empire’s price this weekend, because I feel he should be much shorter. He finished second to an in-form Victory Formation in the Smarty Jones in January, before bouncing back over this distance to land the G2 Risen Star in very fine fashion. Two Phil’s finished third in that race, and claimed success last weekend in the G3 Jeff Ruby.

Of those at bigger prices, Airtime is the only runner that I could see playing a part. The three-year-old showed plenty of improvement to win a second straight race at Oaklawn last time out, scoring a speed rating of 87. This is a step up in opposition, but he could finish in the frame.

Arkansas Derby 2023 Picks

The horse that I really like this weekend is Rocket Can for William Mott. The three-year-old sired by Mischief, was the winner of the G3 Holy Bull over 1 1/16 miles earlier this year, running clear of the field.

Last time out, he finished a solid second behind Forte, and those two runners clearly could be the best among this crop of three-year-olds. The betting is probably right when it comes to the leading contenders, so Reincarnate, Red Route One, and Angel of Empire make solid cases in the exotics.

Arkansas Derby Picks:

  • Rocket Can
  • Exacta Box: (6) Angel of Empire/ (7) Rocket Can/ (8) Reincarnate/ (10) Red Route One
Alex Dudley
Contributor Alex has covered huge sporting events for various websites and publications. He has attended football European Championships, Rugby League and Union World Cups, and the Paralympics. Alex is dedicated to giving the most insightful tips for VegasOdds readers and specialises in horse racing, soccer, golf and basketball.