By Richard Rosenblatt
Concert Tour brings his front-running show back to Oaklawn Park on Saturday for the final big-point prep race before the Kentucky Derby, the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).
The last time Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert sent his 3-year-old bay colt to Arkansas, Concert Tour rocked to a 4 ¼-length victory in the $1 million Rebel (G2) on March 13.
Owned by Gary and Mary West, Concert Tour is the likely favorite in an unusually small field of six going 1 1/8 miles. Derby qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 are up for grabs to the first four finishers.
Concert Tour, with 50 qualifying points from winning the Rebel, will be ridden by Joel Rosario and drew the No. 5 post in Tuesday’s draw.
In this week’s usracing.com Derby Top 10, Concert Tour remains No. 2 behind unbeaten Essential Quality, winner of the Blue Grass (G2) over the weekend and the likely favorite for the Derby on May 1.
Others entered for the Arkansas Derby are Super Stock, Caddo River, Hozier [also trained by Baffert], Get Her Number, and Last Samurai. In the 1 1/16-mile Rebel, Concert Tour defeated runner-up Hozier, Super Stock, Caddo River and Get Her Number.
Hozier comes into the race with 20 points and needing to win or run second, or maybe even third, to have a Derby chance; Get Her Number and Caddo River each have 10 points; Super Stock has 9; and Last Samurai has 0 points.
Last week was another big one for two-time Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who saw Bourbonic and Dynamic One run 1-2 in the Wood Memorial (G2) a week after his Known Agenda won the Florida Derby (G1). Known Agenda remains No. 3 this week, and Bourbonic moves in at No. 7 after his stunning last-to-first win at 72-1 odds.
Also new to our Top 10 is Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Rock Your World, who shows up for the first time at No. 5, and Highly Motivated – second to Essential Quality in the Blue Grass – at No. 8.
Reluctantly, Helium falls out of the Top 10 this week, simply because it’s hard to feel like he can win the Derby coming off such a long layoff after his victory in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) on March 6.
Listed below, in addition to the closing Derby Future wager odds, are the up-to-date odds from BUSR.
The Blue Grass margin of victory was slim, but this colt is a perfect 5-for-5 and set to give Louisville native Brad Cox his first Derby starter – likely as the favorite … Wins include Breeders’ Futurity and BC Juvenile at 2, and was voted 2-year-old male champion … Derby points and ranking: 140 (1st) … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs. May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 4-1 … BUSR odds: 7-2.
Back in Arkansas for a second performance at Oaklawn … Dusted off most of these rivals in Rebel victory last month … Stablemate Hozier, though, could use the qualifying points to give Baffert another Derby contender … Derby points and ranking: 50 (13th) … Next start: Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, Saturday … Derby future wager odds: 5-1 … BUSR odds: 7-2.
Addition of blinkers turned on the lights for this guy in past two races, including the upset of Greatest Honour in the Florida Derby … Well seasoned with a 6-3-1-1 record heading to the Derby … Derby points and ranking: 102 (4th) … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 5-1 (mutuel field) … BUSR odds: 14-1.
Did not get the best trip in running third in the Florida Derby … Won the Holy Bull (G3) and Fountain of Youth and is Derby bound with 50 points … McGaughey won the 2013 Derby with Orb … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 31-1 … BUSR odds: 14-1.
Moves into Top 10 for first time with upset of Medina Spirit in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) … Would be Rispoli’s first Derby … Dark bay colt is a son of Candy Ride, owned by Hronis Racing and Talla Racing … Brings a 3-0 record into the Derby … Derby points and ranking: 80 (8th) … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 9-1 … BUSR odds: 13-2.
Louisiana Derby (G2) winner worked 4 furlongs in 49.40 at Santa Anita on April 3 … O’Neill is a two-time Derby winner … Brings a record of 7-2-1-2 and earnings of more than $1 million into the Derby … Derby points and ranking: 110 (2nd) … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 12-1 … BUSR odds: 8-1.
Still hard to fathom a Pletcher horse in New York going off at 72-1. But he did and won for a rider looking at his first Derby chance … Dramatic stretch run from last-to-first just could make this colt one to keep an eye Derby day … Derby points and ranking: 100 (7th) … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 5-1 (mutuel field) … BUSR odds: 12-1.
The pacesetter in the Blue Grass finally gave way in the stretch to Essential Quality, but certainly deserves Derby consideration with the effort … While Brown’s Risk Tasking no longer in the Top 10, we’ll go with Highly Motivated in this spot … Derby points and ranking: 50 (14th) … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 25-1 … BUSR odds: 10-1.
Since Cox remains high on this colt, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and believe he can rebound off a fifth in the Rebel against mostly the same rivals … Derby points and ranking 10 (30th) … Next start: Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, April 10 … Derby future wager odds: 33-1 … BUSR.com odds: 25-1.
Now a three-time runner-up after his Santa Anita Derby second-place finish … With two wins and three seconds – with two of the losses coming against the now injured Life Is Good, it’s hard to totally disregard this tough colt … Derby points and ranking: 74 (9th) … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 13-1 … BUSR odds: 16-1.
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.