Racing Festival of the South Set for April 9–16
HOT SPRINGS, Ark – The 2016 live race meet may be winding down, but the best is yet to come with the richest purses in track history and the Racing Festival of the South, which runs Saturday, April 9 – Saturday, April 16 when it culminates with the $1 million Arkansas Derby. Last year, 65,000 fans turned out to watch eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah win the Arkansas Derby on his way to his historical sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
One of the richest weeks of racing in North America, the Racing Festival begins with the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies with Kentucky Oaks aspirations April 19 and concludes April 16 with the Arkansas Derby, $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap and two other rich stakes. In between, there is the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap April 10, $150,000 Carousel Stakes April 14 and the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap April 15. The Apple Blossom has produced four female Horse of the Years and is likely to feature defending champion Untapable.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who conditioned American Pharoah, won his sixth Rebel Stakes in seven years with Cupid March 19 and will be sending this talented colt back to Hot Springs in hope of duplicating last year’s success, but the locals won’t be backing down. Rebel Stakes runner-up Whitmore will is also pointing for Oaklawn’s marquee race along with Southwest Stakes winner Suddenbreakingnews and Smarty Jones Stakes winner Discreetness.
Fans can get a glimpse at a potential Arkansas Derby winner at a special Dawn at Oaklawn program Friday, April 15 from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. This free experience offers a behind-the-scenes look at the Thoroughbreds during training hours and includes barn tours and guest speakers. Fans can enjoy Arkansas Derby Day from Oaklawn’s beautiful infield, which will feature live music, beer garden, big screen TV for viewing all the races, petting zoo and Kids Zone.
Formed in 1974, the Racing Festival of the South has played host to some of the biggest names in Thoroughbred racing including Smarty Jones, Curlin, Super Saver, Cigar, Azeri and Zenyatta. And, among the other names hoping to be added to Oaklawn’s history books in 2016 are Ivanfallunovalot, Terra Promessa, Call Pat, Creator, Upstart and Far Right.
General admission remains free during the Racing Festival of the South. For more information, visit www.oaklawn.com or call 1-800-Oaklawn.
Schedule of Races:
Saturday, April 9 – $400,000 Fantasy Stakes
Sunday, April 10 – $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap
Thursday, April 14 – $150,000 Carousel Stakes
Friday, April 15 –$150,000 Bachelor & $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap
Saturday, April 16 – $1million Arkansas Derby, $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap, $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes & $150,000 Instant Racing Stakes