Friday, April 14, 2017

Handicapper's Corner: Arkansas Derby (G1)

Malagacy vs. the Empire in Arkansas Derby

By: Dylan Jarmulowicz,


Saturday is the last of the major Kentucky Derby prep races and it is hard to believe that the Kentucky Derby is only three weeks away. The Arkansas Derby has a rich history, recent champions include Victory Gallop, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Curlin and American Pharoah to name a few. This year’s edition of the Grade I Arkansas Derby features a field of 12 and a one-million-dollar purse. Will favorites Classic Empire or Malagacy win or will it be an upset to wrap up prep season?

Race 11 – 9 Furlongs ( 1 1/8 Mile) Post Time – 7:18pm (Eastern)
Advance Weather: Partly Sunny, 70s

This race is unique when first analyzing it. The two favorites #2 CLASSIC EMPIRE (8/5) and #12 MALAGACY (2-1) while both talented, have some glaring question marks. 

CLASSIC EMPIRE only has one start this year and lost as a heavily backed favorite. But it was coming off a long layoff since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November. Horses tend to need a start after winning a BC race and while the Holy Bull was a tough spot to come back in, he makes this start after another two-month layoff. Most likely he will be heavily bet again and I ask myself if it’s a smart bet playing him at a short price, I’m not sure.

MALAGACY won the Rebel Stakes last start which is the local prep for the AK Derby and couldn’t have looked much better. His stalker run style is also a plus. Combine that with Javier Castellano aboard and you have a serious contender. Even from the 12 post he should be fine. Castellano will find a way to save ground on one turn giving him a great chance at being in the winner’s circle. I prefer him to CLASSIC EMPIRE and to win the race.

Price plays include #4 PETROV (12-1) and #9 UNTAPPED (6-1). 

PETROV is just a classic blue collar horse who gives it everything he has every time. I always root for these kinds of horses and while he may not be the most talented in the race, he could be a nice addition to a exacta or Trifecta ticket. 

UNTAPPED is a real interesting alternative to the favorites if you do not like either. He’s a closer in a race with speed and with the blinkers added; he may focus a little better which can help. He also has been hung out wide in the last couple starts and still ran on strong, maybe he has the “seconditus” syndrome but he has a chance to upset this year’s running of the AK Derby. 

My Plays:
WIN: #12 MALAGACY (2-1)
EX: 12/4,9
TRI: 12/2,4,9/2,4,9,11

Good Luck!  aa 

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