July 16, 2024

Muth fires fresh in Arkansas Derby

Muth wins the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn (Photo by Coady Photography)

The two betting favorites in Saturday’s $1.5 million Arkansas Derby (G1), Timberlake and Muth, locked horns entering the backside in Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile test at Oaklawn Park. When push came to shove in upper stretch, it was 2-1 second choice Muth who had the energy in reserve to go on and win by two lengths, while 11-10 favorite Timberlake weakened to fourth.

Although a Road to the Kentucky Derby series prep, Muth was the only horse in the field of 10 ineligible to accrue qualifying points for the first classic, owing to trainer Bob Baffert’s continued suspension from racing at Churchill Downs. Instead, Muth might wind up in the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico on May 18, a race Baffert has won a record eight times.

Baffert has also dominated Oaklawn’s Triple Crown preps over the years. He previously captured the Arkansas Derby in 2012 with Bodemeister, in 2015 with eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and both divisions of the 2020 renewal with Charlatan and Nadal.

Under Juan Hernandez, Muth captured this edition in a time of 1:49.54 over a fast track for owner Zedan Racing Stables. He paid $6.60.

Just Steel, who had run second in the Smarty Jones S. and Southwest (G3) before running a dull seventh to Timberlake in the Rebel (G2) earlier in the Oaklawn meet, crashed the exacta at 32-1. It was 4 1/4 lengths back to Southwest winner Mystik Dan, who edged Timberlake by a half-length. Informed Patriot finished fifth.

Despite Muth’s ineligibility for Derby qualifying points, the second- through fifth-place finishers all earned some in defeat. Just Steel earned 50 points, boosting his total to 65, while Mystik Dan saw his total rise from 21 to 46. Timberlake secured an additional 15 points, increasing his total to 81, and Informed Patriot rose from eight points to 18 points.

Muth has been one of the most consistent colts of his generation thus far, winning four times and finishing second twice in six outings. Following an open-lengths debut win against maiden foes at Santa Anita, Muth was subsequently second in the Best Pal (G3), first in the American Pharoah (G1), and second to Fierceness in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). Fierceness captured Saturday’s other Kentucky Derby prep, the Florida Derby (G1), by a record margin.

Muth entered the Arkansas Derby off a layoff dating to Jan. 6, when he captured the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita by 2 3/4 lengths.

Bred in Kentucky by Don Alberto Corporation, Muth most recently brought $2 million as an OBS March juvenile. By juvenile champion and Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic, Muth was produced by Hoppa, a daughter of Uncle Mo. The latter is also the broodmare sire of likely Derby favorite Fierceness.