LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 1, 2020) – Throughout the year, the NTRA will provide a guide to the best stakes races in North America and beyond. Races are listed in chronological order (all times Eastern). Full previews when available can be found through the link for each race.
There may be no Kentucky Oaks or Kentucky Derby this weekend, but there is still quality racing taking place. Oaklawn Park has assembled tremendous fields both Friday and Saturday, highlighted by a Grade 1-quality bunch for the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes and two divisions of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.
With the Kentucky Oaks moved to September 4, the 2020 Fantasy could have long-term championship implications as it will award 170 points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Oaks. Each division of the Arkansas Derby is worth $500,000 and will award the full complement of 170 points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby, which has been moved to September 5.
TVG will partner with NBC Sports to bring live horse racing into the homes of fans across the country for the sixth consecutive weekend with coverage from May 1st through May 3rd. In addition to Oaklawn Park, TVG will also be showing racing from tracks throughout the country including Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs.
This week, the NYRA-produced “America’s Day at the Races” will air on May 1, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on FS2. The show will broadcast the entirety of Oaklawn’s Saturday racecard on May 2 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET on FS1 and from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on FS2. And on Sunday, May 3, “America’s Day at the Races” will air on FS2 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET on FS2 and from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1, showing live racing from Tampa Bay Downs.
NBC will also present three hours of Kentucky Derby coverage on May 2 from 3-6 p.m. ET. The three-hour telecast features “The First Saturday In May: American Pharoah’s Run to the Triple Crown,” which looks back at American Pharoah’s down-to-the-wire victory in the 141st Kentucky Derby, and will also feature “The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown,” a computer-simulated version of the American classic.
Friday May 1
6:09 p.m.—$400,000 Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park on NBCSN
Horses from all parts of the country converging for Friday’s ninth race at Oaklawn isn’t a fantasy. It is the Fantasy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles that drew a full field of 14, including champion British Idiom and four Grade 2 winners. British Idiom earned the Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 2-year-old filly after winning all three starts last year, including the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies November 1 at Santa Anita. In her only start this year, British Idiom finished second, beaten 4 ¾ lengths, in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes February 15 at Fair Grounds. Regular rider Javier Castellano has the return call on British Idiom from post 10.
Saturday May 2
6:29 p.m.—$500,000 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby (Division 1) at Oaklawn Park on FS1 and NBCSN
Saturday’s Arkansas Derby is split but, once again, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has the program favorite in both divisions in unbeaten Nadal (5-2) and unbeaten Charlatan (even money). Charlatan heads up the first division with an unbeaten record in two career starts, both coming this year at Santa Anita by a combined 16 lengths after leading at every point of call. Charlatan won his career debut sprinting by 5 ¾ lengths February 16 and dominated entry-level allowance opponents by 10 ¼ lengths in his two-turn debut March 14. The son of Speightstown, a $700,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate, drew the rail for his stakes debut and a new rider in Martin Garcia.
7:04 p.m.—$600,000 Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park on FS1 and NBCSN
Grade 1-winner Improbable is seeking his first career victory at Oaklawn after three runner-up finishes – first division of the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby last year and the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile April 11 in his 4-year-old debut. Improbable has been under the care of Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s traveling assistant, for all three races. In the Oaklawn Mile, Improbable was beaten three-quarters of a length by millionaire Grade 1 winner Tom’s d’Etat after acting up in the starting gate and breaking from the extreme outside, post 11.
7:43 p.m.—$500,000 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby (Division 2) at Oaklawn Park on FS1 and NBCSN
Nadal returns to Oaklawn after a front-running three-quarter length victory in the Grade 2 Rebel Stake on March 14, the traditional final major local prep for the Arkansas Derby. Nadal passed his first-two turn test after being pressed through demanding fractions by No Parole and fellow Southern California shipper American Theorem to move to 3 for 3 overall. Nadal, a son of champion Blame, drew post 5 and is scheduled to carry equal top weight of 122 pounds, including jockey Joel Rosario. Nadal broke from the rail in the Rebel, which was run over a sloppy track.