Muth Lays Siege To Arkansas, Delivers Win But No Derby Points

Muth | Coady Photography

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HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas–A pair of 'TDN Rising Stars' in Muth (Good Magic) and Timberlake (Into Mischief) squared off on an overcast but warm Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn Park to contest the 88th running of the GI Arkansas Derby.

What the race turned out to be was a strong statement issued by Muth, as Zedan Racing's colt kicked for home, won by two lengths and collected the purse money. Of course–since the 3-year-old is a trainee in Bob Baffert's care–he will not receive his 100 Kentucky Derby points.

A record-tying victory, this was the Hall of Fame trainer's fifth Arkansas Derby win–with the last coming when he won both halves of the split Derby with Nadal (Blame) and Charlatan (Speightstown) during Covid in 2020.

Muth's road to Oaklawn started when he broke his maiden impressively by 8 3/4 lenghts at first asking last June at Santa Anita. That effort earned him a 'Rising Star' badge. However, in his next start the $2 million OBS March grad took on fellow 'Star' and stablemate Prince of Monoco (Speightstown), and finished as the runner-up by 4 1/4 lengths in the GIII Best Pal S. at Del Mar in mid-August.

Baffert scratched him from running in the GI Hopeful S. at Saratoga because he thought his colt needed more recovery time after his race at the seaside oval. Back at 'The Great Race Place', the colt stretched out to two turns successfully when he won by 3 3/4 lengths in the GI American Pharoah S. in early October, and then was second over the same surface in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile when he could not catch champion 2-year-old Fierceness (City of Light).

Muth in the early jumps | Coady Photography

After a two-month break, Muth returned to the Arcadia races Jan. 6 and took home the seven-furlong GII San Vicente S. Over the next month, as Baffert weighed his options for where to go next, he contemplated shipping the 3-year-old to Hot Springs for the GII Rebel S. However, a final workout shelved the trip and the trainer opted to wait for a potential shot at the Arkansas Derby.

Made the 8-5 morning-line favorite and saddled on behalf of Baffert by Rodolphe Brisset, Muth went off as the 2-1 second choice here with Timberlake garnering 1-1 favoritism. At the break, it was Time for Truth (Omaha Beach) who sped to the lead past the grandstand, but Muth was quickly into stride and tracked just to the outside of the early pacesetter into the first turn.

Suddenly at the top of the backstretch Timberlake shot between the two frontrunners, but Muth responded quickly and went with his rival. Posting fractions of :23.43 for the first quarter mile and :47.46 for the half-mile, it was the son of Good Magic who gained the upper hand around the far turn, which signaled that Timberlake was in trouble. Muth chopped up the ground down the lane and scampered home over Just Steel, who ran a game race in defeat followed by Mystik Dan.

“He got away and then he was in a good spot,” said Baffert. “The track–speed really wasn't playing well today–but he was in a good spot there. Down the backside, when I saw Timberlake sneak up in there, I thought maybe he was going to control the race from there because I figured he was the horse to beat. But Muth, he's just … the only that beat him was Fierceness and we saw what he did today (winning the Florida Derby). I'm just happy for everybody. It (Arkansas Derby) is very important. It's a very prestigious race, winning that. You know how we feel about Oaklawn.”

Pedigree Notes:
With nine graded stakes winners to his credit, Good Magic's other Grade I stakes winners include Blazing Sevens and last year's Kentucky Derby hero Mage. Muth, who tied an OBS sale record when he was purchased by Amr Zedan after he breezed during the under tack show going a furlong in :9 3/5, is the first foal out of Don Alberto homebred Hoppa (Uncle Mo). She RNA'd for $1.9 million at the Fasig-Tipton Fall Mixed Sale back in November. Hoppa is responsible for a 2-year-old filly by Violence, who went to Rigney Racing for $385,000 at the Keeneland September Sale, and a yearling filly by Tacitus. She was bred back to Good Magic this term.

Saturday, Oaklawn Park
ARKANSAS DERBY-GI, $1,500,000, Oaklawn, 3-30, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:49.54, ft.
1–MUTH, 124, c, 3, by Good Magic
                1st Dam: Hoppa, by Uncle Mo
                2nd Dam: Handoverthecat, by Tale of the Cat
                3rd Dam: Frayne, by Red Ransom
($190,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP; $2,000,000 2yo '23 OBSMAR). O-Zedan Racing Stables, Inc.; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-Juan J. Hernandez. $787,500. Lifetime Record: 6-4-2-0, $1,504,100. Werk Nick Rating: A++. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Just Steel, 124, c, 3, Justify–Irish Lights (Aus), by Fastnet Rock (Aus). 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($500,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-BC Stables, LLC; B-Summerhill Farm (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas. $262,500.
3–Mystik Dan, 124, c, 3, Goldencents–Ma'am, by Colonel John. 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. O-Lance Gasaway, 4 G racing LLC, and Valley View Farm LLC; B-Lance Gasaway, Daniel Hamby & 4G Racing LLC (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek. $131,250.
Margins: 2, 4 1/4, HF. Odds: 2.30, 32.50, 4.00.
Also Ran: Timberlake, Informed Patriot, Time for Truth, Imperial Gun, Liberal Arts, Will Take It, Dimatic.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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