Danza surprises in Arkansas Derby, but may not run in Kentucky

Danza and Jockey Joe Bravo cross the finish line to win the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

Danny Johnston/AP

Todd Pletcher continued to show everyone who’s the boss in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, but his surprise winner in the $1 million Kentucky Derby prep isn’t necessarily headed to the starting gate for the Run for the Roses.

Danza — yes, named after actor Tony Danza — won as a 40-1 long shot in the 1 1/8-mile race at Oaklawn Park. It was Pletcher’s record fourth victory in the event. And though Danza beat a field of bigger names by 4 3/4 lengths, the trainer didn’t commit to running him in Louisville in three weeks.

Pletcher said he’ll be flying Danza and Commissioner — a disappointing sixth in the Arkansas Derby — to Louisville and then figure it out.


”We’re not quite sure if both are going to run, but the plane is headed to Kentucky,” he said.

In the day’s other big prep, the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, Dance With Fate overtook Pablo De Monte in the final furlong for a 1 3/4-length victory. It was Dance With Fate’s first win in a graded stakes.

Dance With Fate sits third and Danza sixth in the Kentucky Derby standings.


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