HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – There will potentially be more people at Oaklawn on Saturday than a full Razorback stadium.
Maybe it’s because the Arkansas Derby hasn’t been at full capacity since 2019. A projected 60 to 70 thousand people will be there on Saturday, and all for different reasons.
“The fun, the energy, everybody is cool,” says horse racing fan Michael Licata. “They want to help you out and be friendly.”
An environment that fans haven’t fully been able to experience since 2019.
“It’s been a long two years, I think everyone is enjoying being outside and having a good time.” Licata continues.
One favorite that has been on derby goers’ lips is, “The Filly”.
Not only does Track Announcer Vic Stauffer think the only female horse in the derby is the favorite, but also the best story.
“There’s a big difference between boys and girls in athletics and it’s the same of the racetrack,” Stauffer said. “For a filly to try to beat eight colts, it’s almost unheard of.”
The filly would be ‘Secret oath’. Not only does Stauffer think that she can win the Arkansas Derby, but also the big one.
“They’ve run, I don’t know, 130 Kentucky Derbies,” Stauffer said. “Three fillies have won. Three. That’s it. She has a chance to be one of them. That’s what makes this story so incredibly compelling.”
But, no matter what, the Arkansas Derby will host some of the best racehorses on the planet.
“Traditionally, when horses run well in Arkansas, which is one of the major final preps of the Kentucky derby, it transfers over to Louisville, and they are effective there too,” Stauffer adds.
Secret Oath is trained by one of the best horse trainers to ever live, 85-year-old Dwayne Lewis.
He was the trainer for another filly back in 1984 that won the Arkansas Derby.
However, that horse placed 19th in Kentucky, and he thinks that Secret Oath is far better.