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Jockey Rafael Bejarano celebrates after winning the Arkansas Derby aboard Overanalyze
The highlight race of the Oaklawn Park spring meeting is the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), run at 1 1/8 miles on closing day and worth 100 points for the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying system. The crowd of 66,158 enjoyed sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70's. War Academy was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 10, an allowance winner at Santa Anita last out after finishing fourth in the San Vicente (G2). In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Oxbow, winner of the Lecomte (G3) but fourth in the Risen Star (G2) and second in the Rebel (G2), and 7-2 third choice Overanalyze, fifth in the Gotham (G3) after winning the Remsen (G2).
Down the stretch in the Arkansas Derby
Also check out On Fire Baby winning the Apple Blossom and Cyber Secret winning the Oaklawn Handicap during the Racing Festival of the South at Oaklawn.
Past winners of the Arkansas Derby
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 9 Overanalyze Bejarano 9.40 5.60 4.60 8 Frac Daddy Lebron 16.80 11.00 1 Carve Santana Jr. 8.60 Winning Time: 1:51.94 $2 Exacta 9-8 195.40 $1 Trifecta 9-8-1 1,264.30 $1 Superfecta 9-8-1-4 10,047.20
Left: Overanalyze in the winner's circle with Arkansas governor Mike Beebe presenting the trophy on the far left with owner Mike Repole's racing manager Jim Martin on the right. Repole said by phone, "When Johnny (Velazquez) got off him after the Gotham he said he flattened out probably needed the race. Todd was going to run Verrazano in the Wood, so we decided to split the two horses up and come here. I wasn't surprised that he won, but I was shocked at how easy he won. I'm really blessed to have a filly (Unlimited Budget) for the Oaks and now a colt for the Derby."
Right: Overanalyze returns after the race.
Left: Overanalyze in the walking ring. Jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "This is my Derby horse, I'm pretty sure. Thanks to Mr. Pletcher for giving me the opportunity to ride him today. My horse broke really good. I placed him right behind the early speed because I didn't want to rush him. At the half-mile pole, He started to chase the horses on the lead and he kicked clear. I had a beautiful trip. Once we got to the stretch, I felt like I had a lot of horse left and saved something for the next race."
Right: Overanalyze in the post parade.
Left: Second place finisher Frac Daddy heads out for the post parade. Phil Bauer, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek said of the foul claim, "We were in a full drive and (Overanalyze) eased over on us. (Jockey Victor Lebron) had to stop riding for a few seconds. It really did affect the margin of victory so I took a shot in the dark." McPeek said by phone from Keeneland (where he won the Blue Grass with Java's War), "My horse ran great and he punched his ticket to the Derby. In the past he's shown a lot of talent and today he put it together. Victor did a very good job riding him. He let him settle and then kept him in the clear."
Right: Third place finisher Carve in the walking ring. His jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said, "I had the perfect trip. I just wish I hadn't been in the one hole."
Left: Beaten favorite War Academy in the post parade. He did not finish and was pulled up halfway through the race. Jockey Mike Smith said, "He was just very uncertain over the surface and I tried to get him to settle. He was OK the first turn, but then he took 4 or 5 really awkward steps. I didn't see anything major causing it, but I just felt really awkward on him and figured better safe than sorry so I pulled him up. I didn't want to take any chances."
Right: The jockeys for the Arkansas Derby pose in the infield walking ring before the race.
Jockey Glenn Corbett sent Get Happy Mister to the lead soon after the start and he set fractions of 23.78, 47.42, and 1:12.34 while pressed by 14-1 Balance of Power and 18-1 Upright Stuff. At the top of the stretch, Get Happy Mister opened up on the field, gaining a 3 1/2 length advantage through 7/8 in 1:25.38, and finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of late-running favorite Looking Cool in 1:38.37. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 8-1 fifth choice Red Wings third.
Winning trainer Kelly Von Hemel said, "He ran a huge race. That was our plan going in to get to the lead and set nice, easy fractions. He's a big, long striding colt and we wanted to run him at the mile because we felt all along that was his best distance. He's been training great since his last race and this is what we expected."
Results Chart from DRF.
Second place finisher and beaten favorite Looking Cool in the post parade. The 8-5 favorite raced 5th early 4 lengths off the pace under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., then rallied to get second beaten 2 1/4 lengths. The Carl Nafzger trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 0 thirds in 8 starts, earning $86,746 for owner-breeder Jim Tafel.
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