The 2018 Arkansas Derby will be held Saturday, April 14 at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs. Here’s what you need to know before you go:
1. It’s a big deal! The Arkansas Derby is the last points race before the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters, and horses with the highest point totals from designated races are given preference. 100 points are given to the winner of the Arkansas Derby, while 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers receive 40 points, 20, and 10 respectively. The first Derby was run at Oaklawn in 1936, and it now has a $1 million purse.
2. Don’t just come for the day! Oaklawn calls the week leading up to the Derby the Racing Festival of the South, and it’s one of the richest weeks of racing in the country. It begins on Thursday, April 12 with the Bachelor Stakes which has a $150,000 purse. Friday, April 13 has 2 stakes races with purses of $400,000 and $700,000. Oaklawn will award $1.3 million in 3 stakes races on Saturday BEFORE the $1 million Derby even runs!
3. Prepare to see winners! 6 horses who have run the Arkansas Derby have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. Smarty Jones in 2004, and Sunny Halo in 1983 won both the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby. Super Saver (2010), Grindstone (1996), and Lil E Tee (1992) all finished second in the Arkansas Derby and won the Kentucky Derby. And then there was American Pharoah, who won the Arkansas Derby, the Kentucky Derby, and went on to win the Triple Crown in 2015!
4. Hats!! If you’re attending the Arkansas Derby, don’t forget your hats! It’s quite the spectacle! You’ll see ladies in beautiful dresses and hats, gentlemen in their Sunday suits with hats. . . Dressing up is certainly not a requirement, but it does add a fun element to the day! The infield will be open with a beer garden and live music, the flowers will be in bloom, and the finest horses will be on the track! You are also welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets if you want to spend the day in the infield.
5. Where to stay: Have you decided to spend the weekend, but not sure where to find Hot Springs, AR lodging? You’re in luck! We know a great little place just outside Hot Springs called Tiffany’s Bed and Breakfast. We’re close enough to Hot Springs that you can enjoy your days at the track, but far enough out to relax at night and let the peacefulness surround you. And where else can you have breakfast at Tiffany’s each morning? Make your reservations now, and don’t forget your hats!