Cupid Can Give Baffert Another Shot at Kentucky Derby

Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby has drawn a field of 12 with Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert likely to send out the betting favorite for the sixth consecutive year in Cupid.

The Hall of Fame trainer won last year’s race with American Pharoah, who went on to win the Triple Crown. This year he sends out the likely favorite in Cupid, who already has made a stop in Hot Springs, winning the $900,000 Rebel (G2) on March 19 in his stakes debut.

That victory earned him 50 points toward entry into the Kentucky Derby field, more than enough to assure a starting spot. Currently at odds of +1600, good for eighth in the early Kentucky Debry wagering, another win could send him to Louisville as one of the top three choices in the betting.

Baffert is always dangerous when shipping into Oaklawn Park from his Southern California base, and horseplayers love to back his runners in the Arkansas Derby. He has sent out the last five betting favorites.

American Pharoah went off at 1-9 last year in his victory, Bayern checked in third at 3-2 in 2014, War Academy was 9-5 in 2013 but did not finish, Bodemeister was 2-1 in his victory in 2012, and The Factor was a disappointing seventh at 4-5 in 2011.

Cupid will break from the 10-post and was installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite, and may end up going off shorter. The colt took the field gate to wire in the Rebel, with Whitmore second while beaten 1 ¼ lengths. Seven runners that competed in the Rebel will renew acquaintances on Saturday.

Among those is Suddenbreakingnews, who was the beaten favorite. The Donnie Von Hemel trainee won the Southwest (G3) in his first start over the Oaklawn Park main track, but had to settle for fifth in the Rebel.

With just 10 Derby points, the colt needs a top two finish to assure he gets into the Kentucky Derby field. The colt is currently at betting odds of +4000 for the Kentucky Derby.

Whitmore figures to take some betting action off his runner-up finishes in both the Southwest and Rebel. He has earned 24 Derby points, good for 23rd place. The cut off now is 32 points. His current Kentucky Derby futures odds are +4000.

In addition to American Pharoah, Super Saver used the Arkansas Derby as a prep in his Kentucky Derby win in 2010, and Smarty Jones put the race on the map when he won it in 2004 and then went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

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