The Factor was not a factor for Archarcharch (or six others) in the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby. Louisville-based jockey Jon Kenton Court, riding for his father-in-law William "Jinks" Fires, guided longshot Archarcharch to a narrow win over the late-running Nehro. The heavy favorite, The Factor, was never able to do better than third position throughout the 1 1/8 mile race. The speedy favorite was expected to lead the field wire to wire as he had done in his wins in the Rebel Stakes and San Vicente Stakes, but JP's Gusto and Dance City were the pacesetters here and set some sharp fractions. Archarcharch was able to move into third position into the stretch, just as Sway Away had overtaken the lead from Dance City. Archarcharch quickly gobbled up them both and narrowly held off a late charge from Zayat Stables' Nehro. Dance City rallied back to outduel Sway Away for third.
The order of finish behind the top four were Alternation, JW Blue, The Factor, JP's Gusto, Elite Alex, Saratoga Red, Brethren, Caleb's Posse, and Truman's Commander.
Although Archarcharch has not been able to piece together back-to-back wins, he's never finished worse than fourth. He appears to have a versatile running style, capable of winning from just off the pace or from mid-pack. Jon Court won the Arkansas Derby last year aboard Line of David, but did not retain the mount in the Kentucky Derby for trainer John Sadler. Hopefully, that won't be an issue this year.
Nehro and Dance City ran sneaky-good races in the Arkansas Derby. After keeping up with a fast pace, Dance City still showed some power in the stretch by fighting off Sway Away and finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front of him and only 1 1/2 lengths behind the first and second place finishers. And all this after a reluctance to load into the starting gate which caused a delay in the start of the race.
Nehro closed in on Archarcharch the way Ice Box closed on Super Saver in last year's Kentucky Derby. His finish was most impressive for a colt that won his first race in February. Nehro finished a neck behind Pants On Fire in the Louisiana Derby and now a neck behind Archarcharch in the Arkansas Derby. Trainer Steve Assmussen has quickly made this horse a viable option in choosing a Kentucky Derby winner.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby
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