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story.lead_photo.caption Jockey Mike E. Smith celebrates after Omaha Beach won the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 13, 2019, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. - Photo by Thomas Metthe

DAY 48 of 57

TODAY'S SIMULCAST SCHEDULE Keeneland, 12:05 p.m.; Laurel Park, 12:10 p.m.; Gulfstream Park, 12:15 p.m.; Aqueduct, 12:30 p.m.; Hawthorne, 3:10 p.m.; Penn National, 5 p.m.; Evangeline, 5:50 p.m.; Charles Town, 6 p.m.; Daytona Beach (greyhounds), 6:25 p.m.; Lone Star Park, 6:35 p.m.

SMITH MAKES HIS PICK

Moments after Omaha Beach won the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, owner Rick Porter said he was confident Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith would choose to ride the colt in the Kentucky Derby.

"I go way back with Mike," Porter said. "I'm betting on us."

Porter bet correctly.

Smith said Tuesday afternoon that he would stick with Omaha Beach for the Kentucky Derby on May 4, rather than ride Roadster in the first leg of the Triple Crown. Smith rode Omaha Beach to victory in the second leg of the Rebel Stakes on March 16, but he won the Santa Anita Derby on April 6 aboard Roadster for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Omaha Beach is among six Oaklawn-raced horses that have enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby and arrived at Churchill Downs on Tuesday afternoon. If the Kentucky Derby draws more than 20 starters, starting preference is given to horses with the highest point totals in designated races such as the Arkansas Derby, which offered 170 points to its top four finishers (100-40-20-10).

Omaha Beach ranks second with 137.5 Kentucky Derby points. Three other Arkansas Derby starters -- Improbable (second), Country House (third) and Long Range Toddy (sixth) -- are also at Churchill Downs after being flown to Kentucky on Monday.

Improbable ranks 11th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 65 points, while Long Range Toddy (53.5 points) is 13th and Country House (50) ranks 17th.

Other Oaklawn-raced horses in the top 20 include No. 8 Game Winner (85 points) and No. 15 Cutting Humor (50). Sueno (24th, 32 points) could start with defections.

MIGHTY MITOLE

William Heiligbrodt has won numerous stakes races at Oaklawn, but he said he hadn't been in Hot Springs in 12 years to watch one of his horses run.

It was worth the wait.

Mitole, a 4-year-old Eskendereya colt Heiligbrodt campaigns with wife Corinne, was a front-running 2¾-length winner of Saturday's Count Fleet Sprint Handicap for older horses, topping two-time defending champion and 2018 Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up Whitmore in the 6-furlong race over a sloppy track.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Mitole was a rising star after breaking his maiden by 10 lengths, clearing his first allowance condition by 7 lengths, and winning the Bachelor Stakes by 9 lengths last year at Oaklawn. Mitole won the Chick Lang Stakes by 6¼ lengths May 19 at Pimlico, but didn't race again in 2018 after having a bone chip removed from a knee.

"He's a project," Heiligbrodt said after the Count Fleet. "Horses that fast are tough. He's just so tough because he's so fast. I can't explain it. I knew when I bought him that I had it -- if I could get him here."

Mitole prepped for the Count Fleet with a 4¼-length allowance victory at Oaklawn on March 2, covering 6 furlongs in a meet-best 1:08.99. Overall, Mitole has a 6-2-1 record in 9 starts and paid $2.80 as the heavy favorite Saturday.

"He's been a project to get him to the point where we could really race him like this," Heiligbrodt said. "He was ready last year after the races here. He just blew the track away here last year. We just didn't get him to where we wanted to last year. Maybe this year."

Information for this report was provided by the Oaklawn media department

Sports on 04/18/2019

Print Headline: At The Post

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