February 24, 2024

Concert Tour, Hozier give Baffert another strong hand in Arkansas Derby

Concert Tour
Concert Tour wins the 2020 Rebel Stakes (Coady Photography)

Arkansas Derby (G1) — Race 12 (7:41 p.m. ET)

Although Bob Baffert hasn’t dominated the Arkansas Derby (G1) like he has the Rebel (G2), the Hall of Fame conditioner will be heavily favored to carry off the hardware in Saturday’s $1 million renewal of the 1 1/8-mile Derby at Oaklawn Park, with stable companions Concert Tour and Hozier comprising one-third of the field.

Four weeks ago, Concert Tour provided Baffert with his eighth victory in the Rebel since 2010, while Hozier was 4 1/4 lengths behind in second. Those two will command most of the wagering attention in the final Road to the Kentucky Derby series prep of 2021, which will award qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

By virtue of his dominating Rebel performance, in which he improved his record to three wins from as many starts, Concert Tour earned enough points, 50, to earn a slot in the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1). With a strong performance on Saturday, though, the son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense could put himself in the discussion as a potential favorite on the first Saturday in May, when Baffert will look to win the Derby for a record seventh time.

Hozier, who earned 20 points in finishing second in the Rebel in his stakes debut, would need to run third or better in the Arkansas Derby to ensure a slot at Churchill Downs in three weeks. He’s a son of Pioneerof the Nile, whose son American Pharoah was one of three previous Arkansas Derby winners for Baffert. Baffert also won with Bodemeister (2012), and last year saddled Charlatan and Nadal to win the Derby’s two divisions, though Charlatan was subsequently disqualified due to a medication positive.

Caddo River, who crushed the opposition by more than 10 lengths in the Smarty Jones S. in January, was outrun by Concert Tour in the Rebel, in which he retreated to fifth as the 6-5 favorite. Farther back in seventh was Get Her Number, who was making his first start since taking the American Pharoah (G1) at Santa Anita in late September.

In out-finishing Caddo River and Get Her Number in the Rebel, Super Stock easily outran expectations as a 40-1 chance, but the colt’s only win in seven starts occurred in a restricted stakes at Lone Star last summer and he’ll be cool on the board again Saturday. The field is rounded out by Last Samurai, who was outrun in the Southwest (G3) and a preceding allowance following a maiden win at Churchill Downs in late September.