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Charlatan Seeks Kentucky Derby Points in Arkansas Derby (G1)

Charlatan running in Arkansas Derby for Kentucky Derby points
Charlatan winning his Allowance race by Benoit Photo. Provided by Thoroughbred News Service.

Horse racing fans recognized the parallels between Bob Baffert trainees Charlatan and Justify almost immediately. To point out the obvious, they are physically similar. Both colts are large and muscular with shining chestnut coats. Additionally, each colt started their racing careers in similar ways. Neither debuted until their three-year old year, but blew away spectators with triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures when they did. To add to the similarity, their debuts were just two days off from being exactly two years apart. They each moved on to an Allowance race one month after their debut, each breaking from the outside post and romping by open margins. Bob Baffert considered running Charlatan in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) after his 10 ½ length Allowance victory - just like he had with Justify - but the closure of Santa Anita Park due to Covid-19 prevented that.

Instead, Bob Baffert was presented with the opportunity to enter Charlatan into the Arkansas Derby (G1). He accepted that opportunity, shipping his promising colt a few states over to Oaklawn Park. It is there that Charlatan resides today while fans anxiously await the colt’s graded stakes debut.

It is hard to say whether or not Charlatan will actually be as talented as Justify was, but he certainly has all the makings of a good racehorse. His dam is two-time graded stakes winner Authenticity. Authenticity won the La Troienne Stakes (G2) and Shuvee Handicap (G3) in 2013. She hit the board in every race that year, ultimately finishing second in three Grade 1s and even running third in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). At the end of 2013, Authenticity was sold to Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings for $1.2 million. She was first bred to Malibu Moon, producing turf stakes winner Hanalei Moon. The next year she was bred to Speightstown, who himself was a four-time graded stakes winner that rounded out his career with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Whether or not Charlatan would actually be able to run at longer distances was brought into question after Charlatan’s maiden debut - yes he was good, but was he capable of running the 1 ¼ miles of the Kentucky Derby? His pedigree has many good sprinters and milers in it, but he has a fair share of routers in there too.

He was certainly able to carry that ability around two turns in his 1 mile Allowance race, but the Arkansas Derby (G1) will be his true test. It will be Charlatan’s first time running the 1 ⅛ mile distance and his first time running outside of California.

Still, fans and bettors have made him the early favorite for the race. Everyone seems confident that this horse is exactly what he seems to be - fast, tough, and talented.

Tune in to Oaklawn Park on NBC or TVG to watch Charlatan take on a field of eleven horses at 6:29 p.m. E.T. You don't want to miss this Kentucky Derby prep race.

[Video: Watch Charlatan (#6) win his Allowance race by 10 1/2 lengths]


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