The Arkansas Derby is a premier prep race for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and usually one of the last preps of the season. Despite an upheaval in the racing calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s race remains invaluable for horses hoping to make the Churchill Downs starting gate come Sept. 5, with hefty points up for grabs and no other prep races yet scheduled.
Read on for 10 fun facts about the 2020 Arkansas Derby slated for Saturday at Oaklawn Park.
1. This year is the second time the race will be split into two divisions after attracting a surplus of entries. The first occurred in 1960.
2. The Arkansas Derby was first run in 1936, making this year the 84th edition.
3. Horses trained by Bob Baffert have won and/or placed in the race five of the last eight years. This year he has the morning-line favorites in both divisions: Charlatan in the first division and Nadal in the second.
4. The race offers 170 total Derby qualifying points for each division. The winners each earn 100 points, with the second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers receiving 40, 20, and 10 points respectively.
5. American Pharoah won the Arkansas Derby in his second start of the year before proceeding to sweep the 2015 Triple Crown for the first time since 1978.
6. The race features a total purse of $1 million for the two divisions; $500,000 each. Each divisional winner will receive $300,000.
7. A filly owns the speed record in the race. Althea completed the race in 1:46.80 in 1984 en route to a seven-length victory.
8. Seven Arkansas Derby runners went on to win that year’s Kentucky Derby, including last year’s official Kentucky Derby winner Country House who finished third at Oaklawn.
9. Arkansas Derby day is one of the highest attended days of racing at Oaklawn Park each year, but this year will probably have the smallest crowd in decades: Oaklawn is not allowing any fans at the track due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
10. The 1993 race was won by a horse sent off at odds of 108-1. Rockamundo paid a record $218 on a $2 win bet.