One of the classic cartoon characters of all time is J. Wellington Wimpy from Popeye a.k.a. Wimpy. He's famous for his signature, "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
Now you might be thinking, "am I on the right website?" or "what the heck does that have to do with horse racing?" Stay with me…
The first Saturday of May is owned by the Kentucky Derby, except for this year. Thanks to COVID-19 the run for the roses have been rescheduled for the first Saturday of September.
Definitely not as catchy.
In the Kentucky Derby's stead are two divisions of the Arkansas Derby. Which brings me back to Wimpy. I'll gladly trade the KD for two Arkansas Derbies today. Well, not so sure about the gladly part, but still happy horse racing remains an option for horseplayers during the lockdown lifestyle.
Although the Kentucky Derby has been pushed back, the first leg of the Triple Crown remains in play for this first Saturday of May. Both divisions of the Arkansas Derby races are 2020 KD qualifying races with each winner getting 100 points, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 to finish fourth.
Unless CHARLATAN (PP: 1 ML 1-1) isn't ready to run following a brief stint in the barn, the first division's 100 points are highly likely to go to the Bob Baffert trainee. Both of CHARLATAN's races produced higher speed ratings than 54 of the 55 figures for all the other horses combined. If he's ready to go, the other 10 horses in race 11 will fight it out for second.
Frankly, if you plan on betting CHARLATAN to win, locking in 1-1 is probably a good idea. We can see him as the 3/5 post-time favorite.
To hear who we think has the best chance to upset CHARLATAN, listen to our guest spot with Arch at Absolute Degeneracy.
From a betting standpoint, division two offers more value to horseplayers. While NADAL (PP: 5 ML 5/2) is undefeated in three starts, this Baffert morning line favorite looks more vulnerable; although, he is our top pick.
You can bet against a horse until he loses, can you?
NADAL is a frontrunner and speed holds well at Oaklawn Park. But he's not going to be alone as KING GUILLERMO (PP: 4 ML 3-1), WELLS BAYOU (PP: 11 ML 7/2) and possibly TAISHAN (PP: 9 ML 15-1) will push for the front as well. STORM THE COURT shouldn't be too far behind the lead pack.
Five of 11 entrants battling to be the point of the spear could make for a hot early pace. If the first quarter is run in under 22.5 to 23 seconds, it could spell late trouble for some of the early leaders. Frontrunners didn't backup like Michael Jackson doing the Moonwalk in recent Arkansas Derbies, they just kind of stalled. As a result, horses with a late kick were able to squeeze into-the-money in the last few steps to the wire.
NADAL, KING GUILLERMO and WELLS BAYOU could all have a chance at the end. KING GUILLERMO ran the highest, last race speed figure winning the Tampa Bay Derby. WELLS BAYOU had a powerful performance in winning the Louisiana Derby and NADAL has shown heart in all three of his Ws.
If the trio deliver repeat performances from their last efforts, they could finish 1-2-3 in any order. That's why they are our top three selections. Ah but, it's horse racing and things hardly ever go as planned.
One or two or maybe all three could be passed near/at the wire by a late comer, especially with a fast pace. FARMINGTON ROAD (PP: 10 ML 12-1) is the number one closer in the field, in our opinion. He's made up ground in the final sixteenth-mile in each of his five starts and figures to be at/near his best in his second start following a two-month rest.
An exacta box could offer value without a heavy favorite in the field. Our handicapper suggests a four-horse box to our subscribers using NADAL, KING GUILLERMO, WELLS BAYOU and FARMINGTON ROAD.
Hopefully, it's a winning combo and you won't have to wait until Tuesday to get paid!