This past weekend was supposed to be the best weekend of all year, but unfortunately, COVID-19 kicked all of our Derby plans into the ditch and down the street and maybe even stomped on them a bit. But, we did have a couple of stand-ins this weekend to give us a bit of a preview of what might be to come in September. The Arkansas Derby was split into two divisions at Oaklawn and they ran on iconic Derby Day. Plus, the folks at Churchill Downs gave us a charitable and virtual Derby to watch as well as but I think we all knew who was going to win that one anyway.
$500,000 Arkansas Derby - Division 1
Breaking perfectly, CHARLATAN went straight to the front and set the pace with fractions of :22.28, :46.08 and 1:09.68, maintaining a two-length lead. BASIN had broke quick and clean as well and pressed CHARLATAN in the two path followed by ANNEAU d'OR. But at the top of the stretch, CHARLATAN found yet another gear and stormed home with a four and half-length margin. BASIN held on for second followed by GOUVERNEUR MORRIS in third.
$500,000 Arkansas Derby - Division 2
NADAL joined his stablemate CHARLATAN in keeping his perfect record for trainer Bob Baffert in the second division of the Arkansas Derby. WELLS BAYOU jumped to the front from the outside post at the break and set an opening half-mile of :46.21. NADAL tracked in second before taking the lead at the quarter pole. From there, he led by one and a half lengths in the midstretch and pulled away by three lengths in the final furlong. The final time was 1:48.34, just slightly faster than CHARLATAN'S 1:48.49 in the first division.
$600,000 Oaklawn Handicap
After not running for more than half of his three-year-old season, BY MY STANDARDS returned in February in an allowance race at Fair Grounds and then took the New Orleans Classic Stakes in March before heading to Oaklawn for the first time in his career. In the 1 1/8 mile Oaklawn Handicap, he broke well and ran in second behind WARRIOR'S CHARGE. The pacesetter set fractions of :23.02 and :46.91. BY MY STANDARDS challenged WARRIOR'S CHARGE in the stretch, who did not give in easily. MR FREEZE chased in third but BY MY STANDARDS pulled away to take the win and knock his earnings over the million-dollar mark. WARRIOR'S CHARGE finished second with MR FREEZE a half-length back in third.
The Virtual Kentucky Derby
To help ease the pain of no Kentucky Derby on the second Saturday in May, the team at Churchill Downs and the KentuckyDerby.com team did a great job of giving us some Derby inspired entertainment. The day started with a live stream tour of Churchill Downs. Then they took us to Claiborne Farms for a tour. Viewers were able to see Runhappy and War Front. The tour was incredibly interesting and full of facts about not only the farm but the stallions that have stood there past and present. They had a variety of other live streams throughout the day for fans from making the perfect mint julep to making an at-home fascinator.
The day ended with a virtual Derby of Triple Crown winners from the past that was televised on NBC. Secretariat was, of course, the favorite at odds of 7-2. The grandstand and the infield were packed with virtual fans as the 13 Triple Crown winners of the past faced off. Seattle Slew set the pace. Secretariat stalked the pace but eventually found himself in the lead in the homestretch (he got faster the further he ran you know) followed by Citation and Seattle Slew. Churchill Downs officials pledged to match $1 million of donations in COVID-19 emergency relief efforts toward online contributions made by fans on the KentuckyDerby.com website.