Rebel Stakes winner Concert Tour makes an encore trip to Oaklawn for Saturday’s Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, headlining a field of 6 that was drawn today in Hot Springs. A victory by Gary and Mary West’s undefeated colt would put the Bob Baffert trainee in the favorite’s discussion for the May 1 Kentucky Derby – along with undefeated Blue Grass victor Essential Quality.
But first the 1-1/8 miles in the Arkansas Derby, where the favorite starts from post 5. Concert Tour, sired by Kentucky Derby and Travers winner Street Sense, looked no worse for the wear at the end of the March 13 Rebel Stakes at 110 yards shorter trip. He cruised wire-to-wire with tepid interior fractions. The 5 rivals looking to knock off Concert Tour will have to make him work harder early in the Arkansas Derby if they want to run by him late. Baffert has won this race with Bodemeister (2012), American Pharoah (2015) and Nadal (2020).
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Caddo River and jockey Florent Geroux opted to sit just off of Concert Tour in the Rebel to no avail. The 10-length winner of the Smarty Jones to open Oaklawn’s Arkansas Derby trail was ineffective in that role and wound up fifth on 8. Expect a more aggressive tactic in the rematch from post 2 as Caddo River is 2-for-2 when going to the front and 0-for-3 when unable to secure the early lead. Merely relaxing off Concert Tour and hoping to secure second money and second Kentucky Derby qualifying points is not a gimmee after his Rebel retreat. The only way to shake the Rebel result is for Caddo River to take the race to Concert Tour, and from the inner post of the pair, that has to be the gameplan.
The lineup Saturday also includes Rebel runner-up and Concert Tour stablemate Hozier. He surprised when second here last month in his first attempt in stakes company. Hozier has trained brilliantly fast at Santa Anita for his third chance against Concert Tour (he finished fourth by 14 lengths to that one in the Jan. 15 career debut for both). Hozier is working strongly enough that he could turn the tables if he were to get any pace help up front. Check out all the morning moves at XBTV’s Triple Crown Trail section.
Oaklawn-based Super Stock will look to improve on his Rebel fourth, which came after a nearly five-month layoff for trainer Larry Jones. Californian Get Her Number also floundered off the bench in the Rebel when seventh. Longshot Last Samurai returns from a fifth-place finish in the Southwest Stakes, where he was middling throughout at 56-1.
2021 Arkansas Derby Post Positions
1-Super Stock (Ricardo Santana Jr.)
2-Caddo River (Florent Geroux)
3-Hozier (Martin Garcia)
4-Get Her Number (Francisco Arrieta)
5-Concert Tour (Joel Rosario)
6-Last Samurai (Jon Court)
The Arkansas Derby will be Race 12 on a program that includes the Count Fleet Sprint, Oaklawn Mile and the Carousel Stakes. First race post time Saturday will be 1:00 pm ET / noon CT.