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If a great weather forecast and even greater thoroughbred racing are not enough of a draw for Oaklawn Park on Saturday, here is another reason to attend: It is Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Day at the races.

Most, if not all the races, will have a Hall of Famer presenting a trophy in the winner's circle.

Folks such as Denny Flynn, Gary Adams, Darren McFadden, Madre Hill, Ron Brewer, Tracy Webb Rice and John McDonnell are set to present.

There will be others.

And several dozen former inductees into the Hall of Fame are expected to be on hand for the festivities.

When Oaklawn Park decided to stay until May with its racing, it was pretty well a given some special events would be planned. For people who grew up watching sports in Arkansas, it won't get much better than this.

Not making any promises, but you might see former University of Arkansas Razorback quarterbacks Kevin Scanlon or Ron Calcagni walking around. Or Chuck Dicus, one of the Razorbacks' greatest receivers of all time.

A couple of years ago, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was at Oaklawn for this event. Auto racing Hall of Famers Bill Davis and Mark Martin also have attended.

So if you think you see Ken Hatfield, Billy Moore, Kevin McReynolds or David Bazzel, you actually might be looking at some of the historical sports figures in the Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is an open-member organization, and members play a major role in nominating and deciding who makes the cut, so there will be membership forms available.

Oaklawn Park's party to May continues this Saturday with a truly all-star cast of athletes who have helped put Arkansas on the athletic map.

***

This is an early prediction for the college football season, but one can never be too early when it comes to college football.

The biggest game on the University of Arkansas' schedule is against Ole Miss, who the Hogs catch in Oxford on the second weekend of the season.

The Razorbacks will open the season with a win over Portland State, and Ole Miss will register a big win over Memphis, so both teams will be looking to make an early statement about their season.

After the Rebels, the Hogs have payback Saturday against Colorado State, then get San Jose State before traveling to Arlington to take on the Texas A&M Aggies.

Other than Nov. 9's game against Western Kentucky, the Hogs will be in a dogfight all season. The SEC, from top to bottom, may be even better than last season.

***

One final note on Oaklawn: Its final racing date of this season is Saturday, May 4, which is also Kentucky Derby Day. That race will be shown on most if not all the TVs in the facility.

There will be live betting on the Kentucky Derby, just like there will be on the Oaklawn card.

The tip of the day is get there early, because parking will come at a premium.

When Smarty Jones, winner of the 2004 Arkansas Derby, ran in the Kentucky Derby, thousands of people flooded Oaklawn for the Smarty Party.

This year's winner of the Arkansas Derby -- and one division of the Rebel Stakes -- Omaha Beach is likely to be the favorite, but in the Kentucky Derby that generally means odds of at least 3-1 because there are so many horses. Plus, many people at Churchill like betting on long shots.

Not sure what the weather forecast is for May 4 in Hot Springs, but the prediction here is that Oaklawn will be the place to watch the Kentucky Derby.

Sports on 04/25/2019

Print Headline: Oaklawn Park spot to HOF people watch

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Comments

  • drs01
    April 25, 2019 at 7:36 a.m.

    Yes, Wally folks will come to Oaklawn to watch the Kentucky Derby, and many more will not. The reason - live racing crowd of fun seekers will make it difficult for horse racing purist to comfortably wager on the Ky Derby card of stakes races. It's the only "worth betting" race card Churchhill Downs will offer all year. In the past, we had the Jockey Club, Players Pavillion and several other locations to watch these races. The derby card was the focus of the day. Now it's not. So, rather than put up with the live meet fans we'll stay home. If Oaklawn had a decent simulcasting area we would be back. But for now, we have options that do not include Oaklawn Park or even their Oaklawn Anywhere betting site.

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