News and STORIES

Charlatan, Nadal Take Arkansas Derby Divisions

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Monday May 04, 2020
Bob Baffert swept the two divisions of the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2. The first and second divisions of the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Park race, which was split due to a large field, was taken by Nadal and Charlatan. 

Both Charlatan and Nadal extended their perfect records with the victories, and they propelled Baffert to the top of the list for the 3-year-old classics. Baffert now has two star horses, as well as the undefeated Authentic.

"I'm really excited about these three," said Baffert. "It's hard to separate these three 3-year-olds. They are good horses, and I'm lucky to have them. I wish the Kentucky Derby (G1) was in June."

The Arkansas Derby awarded enough points to both Nadal and Charlatan for entries into the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. 

Baffert's Plan

Baffert plans to run one of his three top horses in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), which has been postponed to June 6. The Belmont Stakes (G1) is currently scheduled for June 6 as well, but if it is moved to later in the month or early July, one of those horses will likely run in it as well. 

"I'm waiting to hear what they are doing with the other big races for 3-year-olds," Baffert said. "We know the Kentucky Derby is in September, and we'll work back from there."

First Division

The first division was easily taken by Charlatan, who was way ahead of his competition in the field. 

The son of Speightstown was guided by Martin Garcia, and they broke perfectly and moved up ahead. He posted fractions of :22.88, :46.08, and 1:09.68 for six furlongs, while he stayed two-lengths ahead of the nearest competition. 

Charlatan's biggest competition came from Steve Asmussen's Basin, who pressed the leader. As the field moved into the top of the stretch, Charlatan extended his lead to 4 1/2 lengths. He eventually finished six lengths ahead. 

"I can say I am really lucky to ride him," Garcia said. "Mr. Baffert and the owners had a lot of choices. They pick me. I just did my job, and he took me to the winner's circle. They told me we were smoking. I went in 1:09, and he was just galloping. He did it all within himself. I felt someone coming at the three-eighths, and I let him go. He just took off. That's a sign of a really good horse."

The field was completed by Basin, Gouverneur Morris, Winning Impression, Anneau d'Or, Crypto Cash, Mo Mosa, Jungle Runner, and My Friends Beer.

Second Division

The second division was the tougher of the two. Nadal is owned by George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman, and Mark Mathiesen, and he was coming into the race off a victory in the March 14 Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn.

At the start of the race, Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Wells Bayou moved out front. Nadal, being guided by Joel Rosario, broke nicely and moved into second before eventually passing up Wells Bayou around the quarter pole. 

The 4-5 favorite kept the lead as he crossed the wire three lengths ahead in 1:48.34. 

"We learned today that both Nadal and Charlatan are gifted horses and that Nadal can sit off horses. That's good news," said Baffert. "I had a feeling Florent would do something like that (with Wells Bayou), so I told Joel, 'Once you get him running, ride him the way you want.' He kept him close to the lead, and turning for home I knew Nadal had enough run in him to win."

The field was completed by King Guillermo, Finnick the Fierce, Dialed In, and Farmington Road.