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Last updated April 30, 2020

Arkansas Derby Handicapping & Picks

Arguably the biggest day of Oaklawn’s spring Thoroughbred racing season, the Arkansas Derby holds a significant place on the betting world’s calendar.

Expert Picks for the Arkansas Derby from our Handicappers

The importance of the Arkansas Derby and Handicapping trends

The Arkansas Derby was inaugurated in 1936 at Oaklawn Park. It has run at 1 1/8th miles since its inception and now offers a purse of $1,000,000. The race was elevated to Grade-II in 1973, and then promoted to Grade-1 in 2010.

Althea set the speed record in the 1984 Arkansas Derby with a time of 1:46.80.

Todd Pletcher has earned the most victories as a trainer. He won all of his titles in two separate back-to-backs, first winning with Graeme Hall in 2000 and Balto Star in 2001. The legendary trainer returned to the winner’s circle with Overanalyze in 2013 and Danza in 2014.

Pat Day won this race in 1980, 1987 and 1992 and is the winningest jockey of all time in the Arkansas Derby.

Three horses have won both the Arkansas Derby and then gone on to score in the Kentucky Derby. The first was Sunny’s Halo in 1983. He was followed by Smarty Jones who won the 2004 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. American Pharoah was the most recent, winning the 2015 Arkansas Derby on route to his awe inspiring Grand Slam victory through the remainder of the year where he won the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Additional American Classics winners include Elocutionist (1976), Tank’s Prospect (1985), Pine Bluff (1992) Smarty Jones (2004) and Curlin (2007) who all won the Preakness Stakes. Additionally, Curlin won the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Temperance Hill (1980), Victory Gallop (1988), and Creator (2016) all went on to claim the Belmont Stakes after winning the Arkansas Derby.

Concern won the 1994 Arkansas Derby and then took the Breeders’ Cup Classic later that year.

Afleet Alex won the 2005 Arkansas Derby, 2005 Preakness Stakes and 2005 Belmont Stakes.

As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Arkansas Derby currently offers a 100-40-20-10 point split to the top-four horses.

What were the race times for winning horses in the Arkansas Derby?

2017Classic EmpireJulien LeparouxMark E. Casse1:48.93
2016CreatorRicardo Santana, Jr.Steve Asmussen1:50.14
2015American PharoahVictor EspinozaBob Baffert1:48.52
2014DanzaJoe BravoTodd Pletcher1:49.68
2013OveranalyzeRafael BejaranoTodd Pletcher1:51.94
2012BodemeisterMike E. SmithBob Baffert1:48.71
2011ArcharcharchJon CourtWilliam H. Fires1:49.34
2010Line of DavidJon CourtJohn W. Sadler1:49.37
2009Papa ClemRafael BejaranoGary Stute1:49.00
2008GayegoMike E. SmithPaulo Lobo1:49.63
2007CurlinRobby AlbaradoSteve Asmussen1:50.00
2006Lawyer RonJohn McKeeRobert E. Holthus1:51.38
2005Afleet AlexJeremy RoseTim Ritchey1:48.80
2004Smarty JonesStewart ElliottJohn Servis1:49.41
2003Sir CherokeeTerry J. ThompsonMichael Tomlinson1:48.39
2002Private EmblemDonnie MecheSteve Asmussen1:50.20
2001Balto StarMark GuidryTodd Pletcher1:49.00
2000Graeme HallRobby AlbaradoTodd Pletcher1:49.00
1999CertainKent DesormeauxLeo Azpurua, Jr.1:49.20
1998Victory GallopAlex SolisW. Elliott Walden1:49.80
1997Crypto StarPat DayWayne Catalano1:49.20
1996Zarb’s MagicRonald ArdoinBert Thomas1:49.20
1995Dazzling FallsGarrett GomezChuck Turco1:50.60
1994ConcernGarrett GomezRichard W. Small1:48.00
1993RockamundoCalvin BorelO. J. Glass, Jr.1:48.00
1992Pine BluffJerry D. BaileyThomas Bohannan1:49.40
1991OlympioEd DelahoussayeRon McAnally1:47.60
1990Silver EndingGary StevensRon McAnally1:48.00
1989DansilLarry SnyderFrank L. Brothers1:49.20
1988Proper RealityJerry D. BaileyRobert E. Holthus1:48.40
1987Demons BegonePat DayPhilip Hauswald1:47.60
1986RampagePat DayGary A. Thomas1:48.20
1985Tank’s ProspectGary StevensD. Wayne Lukas1:48.40
1984AltheaPat ValenzuelaD. Wayne Lukas1:46.80
1983Sunny’s HaloEd DelahoussayeDavid C. Cross, Jr.1:49.40
1982HostageJeffrey FellWillard C. Freeman1:51.60
1981Bold EgoJohn LivelyJack Van Berg1:50.40
1980Temperence HillDarrell HaireJoseph B. Cantey1:50.60
1979Golden ActSandy HawleyLoren Rettele1:50.00
1978Esops FoiblesChris McCarronLoren Rettele1:52.20
1977Clev Er TellRay BroussardHomer C. Pardue1:50.60
1976ElocutionistJohn LivelyPaul T. Adwell1:49.20
1975Promised CityDavid E. WhitedLarry Spraker1:51.80
1974J.R.’s PetDarrel McHargueHarold Tinker1:50.60
1973ImpecuniousJorge VelasquezGeorge R. Handy1:49.60
1972No Le HacePhil RubbiccoHomer C. Pardue1:48.80
1971Twist The AxeGarth PattersonGeorge T. Poole1:49.20
1970HerbalistJimmy NicholsRoy J. Gillem1:50.20
1969Traffic MarkPhil I. GrimmRonnie Warren1:50.60
1968NodoubleWilliam McKeeverJ. Bert Sonnier1:50.00
1967MonitorJimmy NicholsHarry Trotsek1:48.60
1966Better SeaJohnny SellersBlaine Heap1:49.20
1965Swift RulerLarry SprakerGin L. Collins1:52.20
1964Prince DavelleCharlie BurrDoug M. Davis, Jr.1:51.40
1963Cosmic TipRobert MundorfE. Mahoney1:50.40
1962AreopolisRobert L. BairdHarold Tinker1:49.60
1961Light TalkRobert NonoSteve Ippolito1:50.20
1960Spring BrokerEugene CurryMarion Van Berg1:54.40
1960Persian GoldJohn CombestMonte D. Parke1:53.00
1959Al DavelleRonnie BaldwinD. Howell1:48.80
1958Count DeblancJohnny SellersCharles C. Norman1:53.80
1957Kentucky RomanJohn DelahoussayeNorman A. McMaster1:49.60
1956Johns ChicJohn L. RotzLogan Fischer1:51.20
1955Trim DestinyL. C. CookCecil Locklear1:49.60
1954Timely TipHoward CraigReid Armstrong1:49.80
1953Curragh KingJohn H. AdamsJames Wallace1:49.60
1952Gushing OilAlfred PoparaJoe Jansen1:49.20
1951RuheJob Dean JessopRobert McGarvey1:51.00
1950Big IkeHarold KeeneCecil Locklear1:52.00
1949CacomoBillie FiskA. Williams1:54.60
1948Fertile LandsPaul GlidewellMarian Barton1:51.00
1947FleetridgeArthur CraigRoy J. Gillem1:51.40
1946Bob MurphyWendell EadsCharles Sanborn1:51.80
1944Challenge MeAnthony SkoronskiDan Cataldo1:50.20
1943Seven HeartsJohn H. AdamsW. Graves Sparks1:52.20
1942With RegardsJohnny LongdenT. D. Grimes1:50.00
1941He RollsPreston MillsVictor P. Noyes1:52.60
1940Super ChiefJack RichardDave Womeldorff1:52.20
1939Ariel ToyLee HardyHugh W. Jackson1:52.40
1938TigerAlfred RobertsonRobert McGarvey1:50.80
1937EastportRay HightshoeE. Russell1:50.80
1936Holl ImageHerb FisherJack Carter1:53.40