The 2023 Arkansas Derby Tipsheet

March 28th, 2023

An excellent field of 11 three-year-olds will travel 1 1/8 miles on the Oaklawn Park dirt in Saturday’s $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1). The 2023 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series event will reward the top-five finishers with qualifying points on a 100-40-30-20-10 structure.

Arkansas Derby Picks

  • #6 Angel of Empire
  • #4 Two Eagles River
  • #8 Reincarnate
  • #10 Red Route One

Arkansas Derby Wagers

  • $5 exacta key box: 6 with 4, 8, 10
  • $1 trifecta: 6 with 4, 8, 10 with all
  • $.50-cent trifecta: 4, 8, 10 with 6 with all

Arkansas Derby Contenders

#1 BOURBON BASH (15-1): The D. Wayne Lukas trainee made a good middle move before tiring to fifth in the Rebel S. (G2) most recently. The City of Light colt gets a favorable draw on the rail but will need a leap forward to challenge for the upset under Reylu Gutierrez.

#2 INTERLOCK EMPIRE (20-1): The Classic Empire colt powered home to a fine maiden win in his latest outing and will take a major class rise on this day. The Kenny McPeek pupil has the pedigree to thrive at the distance, but he will need to get much faster to topple a field of this stature. David Cabrera will be up.

#3 HARLOCAP (15-1): The $400,000 Justify colt led to the top of the lane prior to coming home sixth in the Risen Star S. (G2) at Fair Grounds most recently. The speedy sophomore will move up in his second try for Steve Asmussen, and he has some appeal as a pace player at a price with Ricardo Santana Jr. inheriting the ride.

#4 TWO EAGLES RIVER (10-1): Potential value play in the heat was a superb allowance victor over the talented Disarm in his most recent offering for conditioner Chris Hartman. The Cloud Computing gelding is long on talent, and if he can handle nine furlongs, then the sophomore can be in the hunt late at a fair number. Nik Juarez stays in the silks.

#5 AIRTIME (15-1): The Robertino Diodoro trainee was a fine allowance winner off the claim on the surface most recently to register his second straight win on the oval. The son of American Freedom will stalk the pace to the top of the lane with Christian Torres in the controls.

#6 ANGEL OF EMPIRE (9-2): The potential one to beat for trainer Brad Cox has run four big ones from four career races on the dirt and will be tough to hold off with his best showing on Saturday. The Classic Empire three-year-old rallied to annex the Risen Star S. (G2) in convincing fashion in his most recent performance and will be the one moving as well as any in the lane with Flavien Prat inheriting the ride.

#7 ROCKET CAN (4-1): The Bill Mott trainee continues to improve and has the look of a genuine contender with Junior Alvarado coming in for the mount. The gray son of Into Mischief followed his Holy Bull S. (G3) score with a runner-up showing behind Forte in the Fountain of Youth (G2), and slight improvement will give him a surefire chance on Saturday. I expect the well-bred sort to be forwardly placed throughout.

#8 REINCARNATE (5-2): The Sham S. (G3) star had a poor voyage but still rallied well to be third in the Rebel S. (G2) in his first outing for trainer Tim Yakteen. The $775,000 son of Good Magic has won or placed in each lifetime try to date and will improve with the added ground while making his second run on the surface. John Velazquez will be in the stirrups.

#9 KING RUSSELL (30-1): The Ron Moquett youngster was game in graduating on the oval in his latest, but the son of Creative Cause looks to be a bit overmatched at this stage of his development.

#10 RED ROUTE ONE (3-1): Consistently strong late runner has improved his Brisnet Speed figure in three straight and will be one to be reckoned with if he moves up with blinkers on. The chestnut son of Gun Runner is proven on the strip and could peak while making his third run off the bench with Tyler Gaffalione in the irons. 

#11 KOLOMIO (30-1): The Keith Desormeaux claim moves off the turf and takes a major rise up in class, all while drawing the widest post of all in the feature. The Constitution gelding has ability but looks to be in an impossible spot against this cast.