Oaklawn Moves Arkansas Derby to May 2

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Oaklawn | Coady

Oaklawn has announced that it is moving its signature race–the GI Arkansas Derby–from Saturday, Apr. 11 to Saturday, May 2, closing day of the 2020 live meet. Due to the closing of the casino and racetrack to the public, Oaklawn could have raced with purses intact through Apr. 18, but, upon discussions with the HBPA, decided instead to reduce purses across the board and “stay until May.” As a result, the Arkansas Derby purse will be reduced to $750,000.

“Churchill Downs understands the circumstances created by the current health crisis, and, therefore, will allow the full 170 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility (now scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5) as long as we meet the minimum purse threshold of $750,000,” Oaklawn President Louis Cella said. “The purse reductions are across the board. If operations return to normal between now and May, we will adjust them accordingly.”

Of the total 170 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility, 100 points will be awarded to the winner of the Arkansas Derby.

Oaklawn is also moving the GIII Fantasy S. for 3-year-old fillies Friday, May 1, and will reduce its purse to $400,000, but, like the Arkansas Derby, it will still offer the full 170 points towards eligibility in the GI Kentucky Oaks, which is now scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4.

The Arkansas Derby and Fantasy are among 15 remaining stakes that have had their purses reduced along with all overnight purses. Other date changes: The Oaklawn Invitational moves to Saturday, Apr. 11 and will carry a $200,000 purse. The GIII Count Fleet Sprint H. moves to Saturday, Apr. 18, and now shares the card with the GI Apple Blossom H. The GII Oaklawn H. moves to Saturday, May 2, and now shares the card with the Arkansas Derby. 

“We are trying to make best of a bad situation,” continued Cella. “And we greatly appreciate the cooperation we have received from our horsemen and the Arkansas Racing Commission.”

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