The 84th running of the Arkansas Derbys told us something most already suspected…Bob Baffert is loaded with Kentucky Derby contenders!

Big Race Bob is just one win shy of equaling the record for victories in the world’s most famous Thoroughbred race. Ben Jones won the Roses six times between 1938 and 1952 when things were a bit different. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby five times (1997,1998, 2002, 2015, 2018) in a world where the competition has gotten a lot tougher. After May 2, it looks like the California-based conditioner is primed for a run at the record books.

Split into two divisions this year because of all the upheaval in our current situation, the Arkansas Derby gave the hall of fame trainer a grand opportunity to ship two of his stars in, race them separately, and earn points toward a spot in the starting gates on the first Saturday in September. Taking advantage, Baffert had his horses primed and they both ran to near perfection.

The opening leg saw Charlatan make his stakes debut and do what he has done in his previous two races, win in dominant fashion. Leading every step of the way under jockey Martin Garcia, this son of Speightstown controlled the race throughout and won by 6 lengths. Charlatan covered the mile and an eighth in 1:48.49 in a manner that made it look all too easy.

The second division contained much tougher competition and the big serving Nadal was challenged early and perhaps told us all a little bit more about the real talent he possesses. Breaking alertly under jockey Joel Rosario, this son of Blame settled in second behind a determined Wells Bayou. Normally dictating the pace, Nadal was content to sit in second until the runners reached to top of the stretch. Proving exactly why he is unbeaten, Nadal stroked to the front and powered his way to the wire. Winning by a widening three lengths, Baffert’s charge covered the distance in 1:48.34.

As we know, the Kentucky Derby is about four months away and things in this game can change in swish of a tail. But if you are in the Baffert barn, you might have good reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Baffert summed up his day at Oaklawn very succinctly… “Glorious” was his observation.