New First Saturday in May: Arkansas Derby (for 2020)

An Oaklawn Park press release:

HOT SPRINGS, AR (Friday, March 20, 2020) – Oaklawn announced today that it is moving its signature race – the Arkansas Derby (G1) – from Saturday, April 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 April 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 Fantasy Stakes (G3) 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 Kentucky Oaks (G1), 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, April 11 and will carry a $200,000 purse. The Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) moves to Saturday, April 18, and now shares the card with the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1). The Oaklawn Handicap (G2) moves to Saturday, May 2, and now shares the card with the Arkansas Derby (G1).

“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.”

An announcement regarding all ticket sales and dining reservations will be made at a later date.

Oaklawn’s remaining 2020 stakes schedule is as follows:

2020 Date Race Name Conditions Distance Purse
Saturday, March 21 Gazebo 3-Year-Olds 6 Furlongs $90,000
Saturday, March 28 Nodouble Breeders’ 3-Year Olds & Up, (AR) 6 Furlongs $100,000
Saturday, April 04 Purple Martin 3-Year-Olds, Fillies 6 Furlongs $100,000
Saturday, April 11 The Oaklawn Mile 4-Year-Olds & Up 1 Mile $150,000
Saturday, April 11 The Oaklawn Stakes 3-Year-Olds 1 1/8-Miles $200,000
Friday, April 17 Rainbow Miss 3-Year-Olds, Fillies (AR) 6 Furlongs $100,000
Friday, April 17 Rainbow – Open 3-Year-Olds (AR) 6 Furlongs $100,000
Saturday, April 18 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) 4-Year-Olds & Up 6 Furlongs $350,000
Saturday, April 18 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) 4-Year-Olds & Up, Fillies & Mares 1 1/16-Miles $600,000
Saturday, April 25 Carousel 4-Year-Olds & Up, Fillies & Mares 6 Furlongs $125,000
Saturday, April 25 Bachelor 3-Year-Olds 6 Furlongs $100,000
Friday, May 01 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship 3-Year-Olds & Up (AR) 1 1/16-Miles $165,000
Friday, May 01 Fantasy (G3) 3-Year-Olds, Fillies 1 1/16-Miles $400,000
Saturday, May 02 Arkansas Derby (G1) 3-Year-Olds 1 1/8-Miles $750,000
Saturday, May 02 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) 4-Year-Olds & Up 1 1/8-Miles $600,000

 

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Jennie Rees