Oaklawn, 11th Race - April 14, 2007
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Curlin stormed down the stretch to another lopsided victory Saturday, winning the Arkansas Derby by a record margin for his third win in three career starts.
The chestnut colt had no trouble overtaking fast-starting Deadly Dealer around the second turn, then pulled away. He finished 10 1/2 lengths ahead of second-place Storm in May in Oaklawn Park's final Kentucky Derby prep race.
Curlin won the Rebel at Oaklawn last month by 5 lengths and cruised to a 12 3/4 -length victory in his seven-furlong debut at Gulfstream Park in February. Still, he was considered a bit unproven coming into the $1 million Arkansas Derby because he was so lightly raced.
Now, he's established himself as a major contender for the Kentucky Derby.
Starting from the No. 2 position, Curlin moved quickly among the leaders. He was second behind Deadly Dealer in the first turn and dropped back briefly, but by the time he reached the second turn, he was right with Deadly Dealer.
Deadly Dealer dropped back and finished third as Curlin opened a huge lead in the stretch.
Curlin covered the 1 1-8 miles in 1 minute, 50 seconds. He paid $3.60 for a $2 win ticket.
Deadly Dealer had won two straight starts, but this was his first try at two turns and he had to race from the outside post in the nine-horse race.
Before this race, it had been a tough year for favorites in Oaklawn's big 3-year-old races. Hard Spun finished fourth as a 1-2 shot in the Southwest on Feb. 19 for what is his only loss. Flying First Class was the choice in the Rebel on March 17, but he finished eighth.
The Arkansas Derby has had some notable winners in recent years, including Smarty Jones in 2004 and Afleet Alex the following year. Lawyer Ron took the 2006 race.