Kentucky Derby

Road to Kentucky Derby 2024: Top horses to watch in Arkansas Derby and Florida, UAE races

Road to Kentucky Derby 2024: Top horses to watch in Arkansas Derby and Florida, UAE races

Bob Baffert-trained horses are ineligible to earn qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby because of his suspension at Churchill Downs.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is ineligible for the 2024 Kentucky Derby, but that hasn’t stopped him from impacting the run-up to the Run for the Roses.

The Baffert-trained Muth is the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $1.5 million, Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

The Arkansas Derby (post time: 7:47 p.m. EDT) will offer 200 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs, with 100 going to the winner and 50 to the runner-up.

Baffert-trained horses are ineligible to earn qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby because of his suspension at Churchill Downs.

A son of Good Magic, Muth is 3-2-0 in five career starts and most recently won the Grade 2 San Vicente on Jan. 6 at Santa Anita Park. He was the runner-up to Fierceness in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November at Santa Anita. The Arkansas Derby will be Muth’s first race outside of California.

The Arkansas Derby could serve as Muth’s prep race for the Preakness on May 18.

Other top contenders for the Arkansas Derby are Timberlake (9-5 in morning line) and Mystik Dan (5-2).

Trained by Brad Cox, Timberlake enters off a victory in the Grade 2 Rebel on Feb. 24 at Oaklawn. The son of Into Mischief is 3-1-0 in six career starts and currently ranks No. 5 on the Kentucky Derby points list with 66.

Mystik Dan, trained by Kenny McPeek, won the Grade 3 Southwest on Feb. 3 at Oaklawn and is 2-1-0 in five career starts. The son of Goldencents ranks 21st on the Kentucky Derby points list with 21.

Arkansas Derby

Post time: 7:47 p.m. EDT Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Purse: $1.5 million. Grade: 1. Distance: 1 1/8 miles. Jockey weight: 121-124 pounds. TV: FoxSports2/FanDuel TV. Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 100 for first place, 50 for second place, 25 for third place, 15 for fourth place, 10 for fifth place.

PP Horse, jockey, trainer, odds

1. Will Take It, Francisco Arrieta, Eddie Milligan Jr., 50-1

2. Timberlake, Flavien Prat, Brad Cox, 9-5

3. Dimatic, Cristian Torres, Steve Asmussen, 20-1

4. Time for Truth, Rafael Bejarano, Ron Moquett, 20-1

5. Liberal Arts, Tyler Gaffalione, Robert Medina, 15-1

6. Informed Patriot, Ricardo Santana Jr., Steve Asmussen, 30-1

7. Muth, Juan Hernandez, Bob Baffert, 8-5

8. Just Steel, Keith Asmussen, D. Wayne Lukas, 15-1

9. Mystik Dan, Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek, 5-2

10. Imperial Gun, Emmanuel Equivel, Steve Asmussen, 30-1

Fierceness returns at Florida Derby

Fierceness, trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Mike Repole, is among the early favorites for the 2024 Kentucky Derby.

Fierceness will try to bounce back from a subpar 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s $1 million, Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

The 2-year-old champion following his win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Fierceness finished third in his 2024 debut Feb. 3 in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream.

Fierceness, a son of City of Light, drew the No. 10 post in the field off 11.

“Normally I’d be afraid of the outside post, but Forte won from the 11 last year, so you can overcome that,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Everybody knows Gulfstream two-turn races are very tricky, and I think that’s why the start is so important, getting away cleanly.

“I think what happens in a lot of these two-turn races is the jockeys are so conscious of having to get to the first turn in good position that it can get a little rough leaving the gate sometimes.”

Other top contenders for the Florida Derby (6:42 p.m. post time) include Conquest Warrior (3-1 in morning line) and Hades (7-2).

Trained by Shug McGaughey, Conquest Warrior will make his stakes debut after a five-length romp in an allowance optional claiming race March 1 at Gulfstream. He’s also a son of City of Light.

Hades, trained by Joe Orseno, won the Holy Bull at 9-1 odds.

Florida Derby

Post time: 6:42 p.m. EDT Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Purse: $1 million. Grade: 1. Distance: 1 1/8 miles. Jockey weight: 122 pounds. TV: CNBC/FanDuel TV. Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 100 for first place, 50 for second place, 25 for third place, 15 for fourth place, 10 for fifth place.

PP Horse, jockey, trainer, odds

1. Frankie’s Empire, Miguel Vasquez, Michael Yates, 12-1

2. Hades, Paco Lopez, Joe Orseno, 7-2

3. Bail Us Out, Irad Ortiz Jr., Todd Pletcher, 15-1

4. Grand Mo the First, Emisael Jaramillo, Victor Barboza Jr., 15-1

5. Real Macho, Javier Castellano, Rohan Crichton, 20-1

6. Le Dom Bro, Edwin Gonzalez, Eniel Cordero, 15-1

7. Catalytic, Julien Leparoux, Saffie Joseph Jr., 20-1

8. Seminole Chief, Joel Rosario, Jack Sisterson, 30-1

9. Conquest Warrior, Jose Ortiz, Shug McGaughey, 3-1

10. Fierceness, John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 8-5

11. Iris’s Dream, Jorge Ruiz, Cheryl Winebaugh, 30-1

Forever Young tops UAE Derby

Forever Young, considered the top 3-year-old in Japan, is the 3-2 favorite for Saturday’s $1 million, Group 2 UAE Derby (9:50 a.m. EDT post time) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Forever Young is undefeated in four career starts and ranks fourth among Kentucky Derby contenders by the Daily Racing Form.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi, Forever Young enters off a victory in the Group 3 Saudi Derby on Feb. 24.

Pandagate, trained by Christophe Clement, is another top UAE Derby contender. The son of Arrogate won the $100,000 Gander Stakes on Feb. 25 at Aqueduct.

UAE Derby

Post time: 9:50 a.m. EDT Saturday at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Purse: $1 million. Group: 2. Distance: 1 3/16 miles. TV: FoxSports2/FanDuel TV. Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 100 for first place, 50 for second place, 25 for third place, 15 for fourth place, 10 for fifth place.

PP Horse, jockey, trainer, odds (William Hill)

1. Auto Bahn, Mickael Barzalona, Julio Olascoaga, 33-1

2. Oasis Boy, Christophe Soumillon, Julio Olascoaga, 40-1

3. Rock Walk, Joao Moreira, Julio Olascoaga, 14-1

4. Ballon D’Or, Norihirio Yokoyama, Mikio Matsunaga, 40-1

5. Forever Young, Ryusei Sakai, Yoshito Yahagi, 3-2

6. George Tesoro, Yuga Kawada, Takayuki Kato, 7-1

7. Guns And Glory, Jamie Spencer, Bhupat Seemar, 10-1

8. Henry Adams, Ryan Moore, Aidan O’Brien, 8-1

9. Killer Collect, Tadhg O’Shea, Bhupat Seemar, 14-1

10. Mendelssohn Bay, Patrick Cosgrave, Bhupat Seemar, 12-1

11. Navy Seal, Wayne Lordan, Aidan O’Brien, 16-1

12. Pandagate, Dylan Davis, Christophe Clement, 6-1

13. Satono Phoenix, Oisin Murphy, Masato Nishizono, 33-1

Kentucky Derby: Which horses are in and on bubble for May 4 field at Churchill Downs?

Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; jfrakes@courier-journal.com. Follow on X @KentuckyDerbyCJ.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky Derby prep races 2024: Bob Baffert has favorite in Arkansas

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