May 2 won’t have the Kentucky Derby, but it still might have a Derby.
Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, has rescheduled the Grade I Arkansas Derby from April 11 to the first Saturday in May, closing day for the current Oaklawn meet.
The move will come with a purse reduction to $750,000, but the race will retain its 170 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, with 100 to the winner.
Churchill Downs announced this week that the Kentucky Derby would be rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oaklawn’s other big stakes races, including the Fantasy, with qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks, would also be moved to the first weekend in May.
Other Kentucky Derby points races still on the schedule as of Friday afternoon are the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on Saturday; the UAE Derby in Dubai and Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park next weekend; and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on April 4.
The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct is technically still on for April 4, but that’s in jeopardy after the New York Racing Association suspended live racing at the track indefinitely when a backstretch worker at Belmont Park tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday morning.
He and his roommate have been quarantined since last Friday when the worker developed symptoms.
Santa Anita reiterated its plan to keep racing and training, “Having consulted with our governmental and industry partners,” the track said in a Twitter thread. Santa Anita also will donate profits from its races to a charity chosen by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
LAUREL ON PAUSE
Like Aqueduct, Laurel Park in Maryland has ceased live racing for the time being.
“In accordance with the Maryland Governor’s Executive Orders and as part of the continuing effort to protect the health and safety of essential personnel and the horses they care for, the Maryland Jockey Club will temporarily pause live racing at Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway,” the MJC said in a statement. “Our top priority is the well-being of every person and every horse in our community and we look forward to resuming when the state and federal leaders and health authorities deem it appropriate to do so.”
The MJC also runs Pimlico, where the Preakness is scheduled — for now — to be run on May 16.
DUBAI STILL ON
Many of the top North American horses have already shipped to Dubai for next Saturday’s Dubai World Cup card at Meydan Racecourse.
Ireland-based Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien has decided not to bring his stable of stars to the Dubai meet, however, citing travel difficulties.
Among those lined up for the main event, the $12 million Dubai World Cup, are Pegasus World Cup winner Mucho Gusto, 2019 Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston, Grade I winner Math Wizard and Tacitus, who placed in the Kentucky Derby, Belmont, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup last year.
Facing a 14-day quarantine upon returning to the U.S., jockeys Irad Ortiz Jr. and Tyler Gaffalione have given up their mounts in the Dubai World Cup.
Ortiz was supposed to have ridden Mucho Gusto, but will be replaced by William Buick, and Gaffalione was scheduled to ride Sir Winston. Frankie Dettori replaces him.
Reach Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.