Super Screening the Arkansas Derby - Super Screener
Super Screener

Super Screening the Arkansas Derby


G1 Arkansas Derby

#6 American Pharoah was the early favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last Fall. While an injury put him on the sidelines for the Fall and Winter, he came back and absolutely toyed with a field of hopelessly overmatched rivals to take the G2 Rebel Stakes in the easiest of fashion. He returns today to take on an anemic field of foes in the Arkansas Derby. If the outcome isn’t an absolute display of dominance, then one would have to question his readiness to capture the Kentucky Derby win.

#6 American Pharoah is currently ranked #3 on the 2015 Horse Racing Nation Kentucky Derby rankings.

#4 Madefromlucky appears to be the clear second choice as the path to the Kentucky Derby was clearly strongest via the California route but the Florida route was second best this year. With a likely reasonably soft pace set up in this prep, this colt should track #6 American Pharoah early on and finish in the Trifecta.

#2 Mr. Z has basically raced every month since last Summer and if he finds his way to the Kentucky Derby gate on the first Saturday in May, he’ll be a strong Super Screener stand against. Big pace factor here and it will be interesting to see if Victor Espinoza concedes the lead to this one and takes #6 American Pharoah back off the lead. That scenario, however, is highly unlikely as #6 American Pharoah does not like to be restrained.

The Super Screener long shot pick in this race will be #8 Bridget’s Big Luvy. That 1 1/8 miles easy lead, first-time blinkers, in-the-slop victory in the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel probably won’t carry forward here, but given the anticipated below par pace set up, this one might stick around the bottom of exotics at a price.

The Super Screener will favor horses with previous 1 1/8 miles experience, shippers from California or Florida, at least two starts off a layoff, a first or second place finish in a graded stakes race, a decent foundation with an ascending form cycle, a presser energy distribution profile and sharp works.

Rating the field, we come up with the following Super Screener assessment:



#6 American Pharoah 2-5



#4 Madefromlucky 5-1

#2 Mr. Z 12-1

#3 Bridget’s Big Luvy 20-1


Let’s break down the G1 Arkansas Derby and assess the quality of this Derby Prep race:


Oaklawn Park – G1 Arkansas Derby – 1 1/8 Miles

Field Size = 8

Number of Graded Stakes Winners: 2

Number of Graded Stakes Placed: 6

Number of Graded Stakes Starters: 7

BRIS Pace Par:  First Call = 94; Second Call = 103; Final = 103

Projected Pace:  First Call = 90; Second Call = 97; Final = 103

Energy Distribution Profile of Field: Slanted toward closer types

Morning Line Favorite: American Pharoah (CURRENT HRN RANKING: #3)

Super Screener Top Three Picks: Americah Pharoah, Madefromlucky, Mr. Z

Hit-the-Board Bomber: Bridget’s Big Luvy




Notes: American Pharoah will have to show us that he can be rated versus his “pull the rider” tendencies if he is to be considered a viable Kentucky Derby contender. There’s no question about his quality and superiority over this field. He is training super well up to this race, but a Kentucky Derby requires a horse with a certain profile and American Pharoah needs to prove that he can meet the historical Super Screener criteria if he is to have a shot at scoring the win on the first Saturday in May.



American Pharoah put on quite a display in both of his Kentucky Derby prep races just toying with two of the weakest fields on the Derby trail in the Arkansas Derby and the Rebel Stakes. To put it in perspective, all horses that ran behind American Pharoah make up the lowest ranking horses according to the Super Screener. American Pharoah can not be blamed for trouncing weak fields. He did what was expected of him and he looked good doing it. He hardly raised a hair in either prep and was throttled down in both approaching the wire. Did he get what he needed from those preps or were they more like public workouts given he experienced absolutely no pressure? It is clear he has plenty left in the tank and that from a form cycle perspective, he will move forward in the Kentucky Derby. However, as a pace/presser type, the Kentucky Derby will be the first time he really gets tested. He may be up to the task and will use his substantial energy reserves to get the job done, but the numbers from that Arkansas Derby are coming back as just ok despite the visual wow factor. American Pharoah is among the contenders but he is not he mortal lock that we’ll be hearing about in the days to come.  No one else in the field impressed and we are downgrading this prep to a B.




WINNER: American Pharoah

BRIS PACE/FINAL PARS:                                  1st Call = 94; 2nd Call = 103; Final = 103

BRIS PROJECTED PACE/FINAL PARS:        1st Call = 90; 2nd Call = 97;   Final = 103

BRIS ACTUAL PACE/FINAL PARS:                1st Call = 101; 2nd Call = 104; Final = 102








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