Multiple graded stakes winner Tapiture was installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite Wednesday for Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.
Tapiture, trained by Steve Asmussen, won the Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn in his 3-year-old debut Feb. 17, then finished second to Hoppertunity after a bumpy stretch ride in the March 15 Rebel Stakes on the same track. Last November, Tapiture won the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Joel Rosario, who rode Orb to victory in last year's Kentucky Derby, took over the ride on Tapiture this week from Ricardo Santana Jr.
Bayern, who did not make a start at age 2 but has won both of his starts this year, needs to finish second in Saturday's nine-horse field to assure a spot in the May 3 Kentucky Derby. The 2-1 second choice, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Gary Stevens, was scratched from the San Felipe Stakes on March 6 with a bruised inside quarter and has yet to participate in a Kentucky Derby points race.
Third choice Strong Mandate (9-2) finished second to Tapiture in the Southwest Stakes and was fourth in the Rebel for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.