Oaklawn Park Splits Arkansas Derby on May 2 Into Two Divisions

Oaklawn Park will run two divisions of the Arkansas Derby (G1) May 2, with each division awarding 170 points toward starting eligibility in the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).

Oaklawn officials said last week they were looking for at least 22 horses to split the 1 1/8-mile feature for 3-year-olds into two divisions, and 22 were entered to create two 11-horse fields. Each division will carry a $500,000 purse and award Road to the Kentucky Derby series points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers. 

The Arkansas Derby was originally scheduled for April 11 but was moved to May 2 after Churchill Downs announced the Kentucky Derby was postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5 due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Oaklawn is one of a handful of tracks running live racing without spectators.

Oaklawn announced March 20 that the original $1 million purse for the Arkansas Derby would be cut to $750,000 after the casino closed March 16 because of the coronavirus, but reduced it further once it was split.

The first division of the Arkansas Derby, scheduled as Race 11 at 5:29 p.m. CT, features undefeated Charlatan, who needed a split race to draw in. If the Arkansas Derby had remained a single race, it would have been limited to 14 starters, and those with the most earnings would have drawn in first. Charlatan, who won a maiden special weight and an allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita by a combined 16 lengths, only has $67,200 in earnings from his two starts.

The first division also includes Runhappy Hopeful Stakes (G1) winner and Rebel Stakes third Basin, as well as grade 1-placed colts Gouverneur Morris and Anneau d’Or. Charlatan drew the rail, and Basin will break from the outside.

The second division, which will go off as Race 13 at 6:43 p.m., includes champion 2-year-old male Storm the Court, Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner King Guillermo, Rebel winner Nadal, Southwest winner Silver Prospector, Oaklawn Stakes runner-up Farmington Road, and, on the outside, Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Wells Bayou.

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