The 2017 Arkansas Derby is scheduled to take place this afternoon at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is hard to believe, but with the Florida Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial already in the rear view mirror, the Arkansas Derby will cap off the Grade 1 stakes schedule before the best horses in America head to Louisville, Kentucky for the annual Kentucky Derby.
According to Horse Racing Nation, The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby is the final Oaklawn Park prep race prior to the annual Run for the Roses, and recent history has shown that a good finish in today’s Arkansas Derby can lead to a great 2017 racing year.
Some prime examples of that are American Pharoah, Danza, and Bodemeister. The 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah won the Arkansas Derby before going on to win the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs. Of course, those races were followed by runaway wins for American Pharoah in The Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
In 2014, Arkansas Derby winner Danza ran third in the Kentucky Derby and had some success afterward. Bodemeister captured the victory circle in 2012 at Oaklawn Park before finishing in the money in a runner-up performance at Churchill Downs just three weeks later.
While a win the Arkansas Derby doesn’t always guarantee a terrific racing year, it sure doesn’t hurt either!
This year, the big favorite to win the Arkansas Derby is Classic Empire.
Installed as the 8-5 early morning line program favorite for the one and one-eighth mile Arkansas Derby, Classic Empire is scheduled to break from post number two this afternoon. Trainer Mark Casse likes Classic Empire’s chances to win the Arkansas Derby and loves his post position spot, but Casse knows this race won’t be a walk in the park by any means.
“We really like the post position,” Casse said.
“I feel like this racetrack suits him. He’s got speed. His best races have been over really tight surfaces similar to this one. I think he’ll appreciate this racetrack.”
While Casse and his crew are feeling good about their chances for today’s race, that confidence wasn’t there just a few months ago.
“I think probably a month, a month and a half ago when he was continuing some of his antics we kind of had thrown our hands up and been like, ‘Well, what are we supposed to do?’ said Casse, the son of the colt’s trainer, Mark Casse. ‘Last-ditch effort, we send him back to Ocala where it all started for him and said if he trains there, good, if not we’ll take a step back and will wait until the summertime. So, he’s earned his right here. We feel like we’re kind of playing on house money.'”
If Classic Empire is going to win the 2017 Arkansas Derby, his biggest competition may come from Malagacy. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Malagacy is listed at 2/1 and will be ridden by one of the best jockeys in the business Javier Castellano.
Third on the morning line odds board is Untrapped at 6/1. Now if you think any other horse could pull off the win at today’s Arkansas Derby, then it is time for you to load up. The other 10 horses in the 12 horse field are currently listed at 12/1 or higher.
Fans can catch all of the big race action live nationally through TVG. If you are on the go, you can also watch the Arkansas Derby streaming live online through your tablet or cell phone by heading to Oaklawn.com. If you can’t catch the Arkansas Derby live, be sure to check back here for the results as they will be posted in the comments section below.
Below is a look at the complete field, post positions, and current odds to win the 2017 Arkansas Derby. Post time for the big race is set for approximately 7:20 p.m. ET.
2017 Arkansas Derby Field and Current Odds
- Rockin Rudy — Mario Gutierrez, 12-1
- Classic Empire — Julien Leparoux, 8-5
- Silver Dust — Corey Lanerie, 20-1
- Petrov — Ricardo Santana, Jr., 12-1
- Grandpa’s Dream — Alex Canchari, 30-1
- Lookin At Lee — Luis Contreras, 15-1
- Sonneteer — Kent Desormeaux, 15-1
- Rowdy The Warrior — Luis Quinonez, 30-1
- Untrapped — Mike Smith, 6-1
- One Dreamy Dude — Geovanni Franco, 50-1
- Conquest Mo Money — Jorge Carreno, 15-1
- Malagacy, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 2-1
[Featured Image by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images]