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Arkansas Derby to be held Saturday at Oaklawn ahead of Kentucky Derby

The finish line of the 2013 Arkansas Derby, which was won by Overanalyze.
The finish line of the 2013 Arkansas Derby, which was won by Overanalyze.

The 86th Arkansas Derby will be held Saturday at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Spring. The annual qualifying race is the fourth and final race of Oaklawn’s prep series for the Kentucky Derby.

The participants will be able to win qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. First place will receive 100 points, second place 40 points, third place 20 points and fourth place will earn 10 points. The winner will also receive $1.25 million.

The race is for 3-year-old horses with a run distance of 1 1/8 miles. The Arkansas Derby has produced six Kentucky Derby winners over the years, with last year's winner, Super Stock, setting a new record with a 1:46.08 time.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas announced that his filly Secret Oath will be competing in the race. The filly has already earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby after winning 60-points in the Martha Washington and Honeybee races.

Oaklawn Owner and President Louis Cella says D. Wayne Lukas trained a filly in 1988 with Garry Stephens named Winning Colors and she won the Kentucky Derby that year.

“We’ll find out how good Secret Oath is,” Cella said in an interview with KUAR News. “A filly taking on the boys again.”

The Arkansas Derby has been taking place since 1936. Cella said racing at Oaklawn started in 1904 when his great grandfather built the track.

“We had a couple of stoppages during the war years, but we’ve been around for 118 years and we’ve really built up and created a 3-year-old program and those are the horses that run for the Kentucky Derby,” he said.

Cella says they are expecting about 60,000 to 70,000 people at the track on Saturday, which should be the biggest day of the year for attendance.

The casino is not expecting to have mobile sports wagering available for this event, but is working to have it up and running by football season.

Michael Hibblen was a journalist for KUAR News from May 2009 — December 2022. During his final 10 years with the station, he served as News Director. In January 2023, he was hired by Arkansas PBS to become its Senior Producer/ Director of Public Affairs.