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Cella just put out a bulletin.
The announcement Tuesday that the Kentucky Derby will be moved to Sept. 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a new date for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby, according to Oaklawn Park president Lou Cella. The Arkansas Derby is currently scheduled for April 11.
Cella said Tuesday that Oaklawn has been in discussions with a number of factions to determine the best date for the 1 1/8-mile race that has been won by such horses as American Pharoah, Smarty Jones, and Sunny's Halo.
“It’s a moving target,” Cella said. “We are in discussions internally, as well as with other tracks, on, ‘What do we believe will be the future of racing in the springtime for this year?’ We don’t know and right now we have to react.
“As of today we are planning on our complete meet, ending on May 2, and as we have scheduled, running the Arkansas Derby on April 11. Now, with the fact that Keeneland has shut down its meet and Churchill has [postponed] the Derby, we have to review the timing and scheduling of [our stakes] and see what makes the most sense for our racing connections, and that’s what we’re reviewing right now. We’ll probably have some changes in the near future.”
Cella said with the current landscape of preps all geared to the first Saturday in May, it might make sense to run the Arkansas Derby later in the meet at Oaklawn.
“Rather than April, maybe we push it back to a different date that might be best for the horsemen,” he said. “We’re talking to the horsemen right now to see what is best. For the horseman with a promising 3-year-old, is it best for him to race on April 11 or race on May 2?
“We’re not going to cancel anything. It just might be a rescheduling. What is best for the horse?”
Cella said decisions would be made in the near future, so horsemen would have time to adjust training schedules.
Do you know if the Fantasy has been postponed as well? I was wondering if the Sadler filly, Edgeway might get a chance at the Oaks. I think she is a special filly, and am anxious to see her take on stakes company.