HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, April 12, 2014) â€“ Eclipse Thoroughbred Partnersâ€™ Danza came in as the lesser heralded stablemate, but is leaving Oaklawn as the 78th winner of the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) and with a ticket to the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs after earning 100 points. The winner, sent off as the second highest odds on the board by the crowd of 63,186, returned $84.60, $28.40 and $11 at odds of 40-1.
Taking advantage of his rail position under jockey Joe Bravo, Danza settled into third place early as 3-5 favorite Bayern led the field through fractions of :23 3/5 and :47 3/5 for the first half mile. The winner slipped through on the rail as the field entered the stretch, engaged the early leader and then proceeded to draw off convincingly by 4 Â¾ lengths in just his fourth career start. Ride On Curlin, who had been third in both the Southwest and Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, was bumped at the start and raced near the back of the field before rallying late to finish second. Bayern held third.
Southwest Stakes winner and Rebel Stakes runner-up Tapiture was fourth and was followed by Conquest Titan, Commissioner, Thundergram and Strong Mandate.
"That was a pretty great effort,â€ said Bravo. â€œTodd (Pletcher, trainer) was pretty high on the horse and he told me this morning that he was going to be fresh so don' take anything away from him. Try to save as much as you can and let him run his race. It was textbook, just textbook. Everything unfolded like a dream. That was pretty cool down the lane. It's really fun to have a special horse like that and have him run like that. I'm not a fortune teller, but hopefully, in a couple of weeks we can do that again. I'm crossing my fingers he's my Derby horse.â€
â€œWe were searching for the right race and the right option and it seemed like the Arkansas Derby was the race for us to step out and take our shot,â€ said Pletcher, who was winning his second straight and record fourth overall Arkansas Derby. â€œWeâ€™re certainly very excited that we did and very proud of the way the horse ran today.â€
Pletcher won the 2013 edition with Overanalyze. His other two runners were Balto Star (2001) and Graeme Hall (2000).
Danza, a Street Boss colt, improved his record to two wins in four starts and the $600,000 first prize increased his bankroll to $666,428.
Saturday was closing day of the 2014 race meet.
OTB Race Previews
Bet Horse Racing
- Earn Cash Rewards - Win or Lose
- No Membership or Per-Wager Fees
- Free Live Video & Race Replays