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dressagetraks
Feb. 20, 2008, 02:22 PM
I'm tossing around the idea of taking a vacation day from work and heading down to my nearest track for their big day. That's still about a 200-mile drive, 400 round trip, but doable although a long day. I've never been there. I'm not expecting them to be Churchill, where I went to the Derby in 1987 and the BC in 1994, but just wondering about the place.

So if you've been to Oaklawn:

1. View? Do the cheap seats actually see the races?
2. Crowds? How packed on AD day?
3. Atmosphere/overall good place to go to the races?
4. Horses? Subject to revision, who is planning on the Oaklawn route this year to the KD? They've had some nice horses there the last few years. This would be as close as I could get to this year's Derby.

Thanks for any input.

Texarkana
Feb. 20, 2008, 02:33 PM
I can't answer your questions, but I've also been tossing around the idea of taking a weekend trip to Hot Springs for the Arkansas Derby. I've never been to Oaklawn, either. It's a bit farther from me, so I'll probably make a 2 day adventure of it.

I didn't even think about getting reserved seats or anything. I didn't realize it was that big of a deal... even for stakes races at most tracks (barring TC races, BC races, etc.), you can usually just enter under general admission and have no problem finding a good vantage point.

Glimmerglass
Feb. 20, 2008, 03:15 PM
Take a look at their promo (from 2007) for Oaklawn as posted on youtube.com

Oaklawn 2007: Somebody's Gonna Win! (6 min) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-KVOhpx5aE)

I confess I have not been there however I'm not under any impression its a 'dodgy track' by anymeans in accomodating fans whatsoever. In fact it has a very, very healthy regular attendence figures every racing day and with that almost always comes a fun attmosphere. The Arkansas Derby, keep in mind, gets massive crowd numbers (well north of 55,000) so I'd really look into what seating options there are.

Saratoga on Travers Day in recent years has only managed (once you filter out the spinners) about 50k and it can be a difficult getting a piece of ground to stand on in the general admission areas trackside. I can't imagine what Spa would be like with a true 70k on the grounds.

lizathenag
Feb. 20, 2008, 04:09 PM
You never know who you might see before they got famous.

I saw Seattle Slew race his first race as a three year old because we decided to go to Hialeah that day.

and I saw Cigar in the early part of his streak (we had gone to see Holy Bull).

ya never know.

Centsability
Feb. 21, 2008, 01:31 AM
there are LOTSSSS of people in the grandstand every race day at Oaklawn... it is a very popular place. It's kind of similar to Saratoga, in the sense that the entire town is race-horse oriented, pretty neat. Definitely something you should do if you get the shot... might be a little packed, but it's not like Derby Day or anything. As far as stock running, it's the last KY Derby Prep Race, so there will be very nice horses running in it... (i.e. Curlin last year...) I know my early pool KY derby pick is pointed for it, Golden Yank! He's the man

Equus34
Feb. 21, 2008, 08:15 AM
While I personally have never been to Oaklawn I have friends who race there and they like it.

Hope you get a chance to go and have a great time.

www.cmmbarnbrats.com

Texarkana
Feb. 21, 2008, 10:04 AM
there are LOTSSSS of people in the grandstand every race day at Oaklawn... it is a very popular place. It's kind of similar to Saratoga, in the sense that the entire town is race-horse oriented, pretty neat. Definitely something you should do if you get the shot... might be a little packed, but it's not like Derby Day or anything. As far as stock running, it's the last KY Derby Prep Race, so there will be very nice horses running in it... (i.e. Curlin last year...) I know my early pool KY derby pick is pointed for it, Golden Yank! He's the man

So would you recommend reserved seating? I always knew the place drew a good crowd. But from my understanding, it's a very large but manageable crowd, which is why I wasn't particuarly concerned about it.

I'm excited to get the chance to go. I'm glad Dressagetraks started this thread, as it's only made me more excited.

dressagetraks
Feb. 21, 2008, 10:09 AM
I just emailed Oaklawn to ask them the reserve seating vs admission at the gate question.

I'm getting excited about this too! Haven't actually seen a race in person since the 1994 BC.

Centsability
Feb. 21, 2008, 11:03 AM
well, it depends what kind of seating you want. If you want box seats or suites, etc, etc, I would call Oaklawn right away and get the pricing and reserve a spot. Like I said, it's a very popular spot in the party town on a regular basis, but you should definitely go, you will have a blast, and not to mention, get to see some fantastic racing and fast horses in the making!

SleepyFox
Feb. 21, 2008, 11:11 AM
I can't answer your questions, but I've also been tossing around the idea of taking a weekend trip to Hot Springs for the Arkansas Derby. I've never been to Oaklawn, either. It's a bit farther from me, so I'll probably make a 2 day adventure of it.

I didn't even think about getting reserved seats or anything. I didn't realize it was that big of a deal... even for stakes races at most tracks (barring TC races, BC races, etc.), you can usually just enter under general admission and have no problem finding a good vantage point.

Me, too! Never been there either, but want to go. I hear it's a lot like Saratoga.

Texarkana, I'm not far from you at all - lemme know if you want to carpool.

Glimmerglass
Feb. 21, 2008, 11:41 AM
I hear it's a lot like Saratoga.

Not entirely related to this thread but despite having gone to Saratoga all my life I'd likely give Keeneland a slight nod over Spa on a lot of points. I can only take so much of the down-state bada-bing flavor that Saratoga gets weighted down with.

Call me crazy but I do like clean restrooms, as well as the absence of pealing lead paint and no sticky floors. I prefer to wager use self-service machines but at least the Keeneland mutual clerks are less sour then the NYRA guys. [Arlington Park, from my experience, tend to have the worst] The fields are bigger, quality a tad higher, and plenty of off beat things to see at Spa but I've found the fans at Keeneland more informed, vastly more respectful, but no less interested and thrilled to be watching racing.

I don't mind, I suppose out of tradition, getting nicked for a parking fee by using someone's backyard as you do at Saratoga vs. parking for free under a lovely canopy of trees in Lexington. The hawking of almost everything at the edges of the Spa grounds is part of the atmosphere :) Etc, etc. I’m sure like a Pimlico on Preakness Day, Oaklawn on Derby day can be both a blast and hellish in many ways.

Texarkana
Feb. 21, 2008, 01:00 PM
Me, too! Never been there either, but want to go. I hear it's a lot like Saratoga.

Texarkana, I'm not far from you at all - lemme know if you want to carpool.

That sounds like a great idea. :) This will be fun. I hope we can all make it.

And Dressagetraks-- do pass on what you find out about reserved seating and admission. The website doesn't seem to make too much of a fuss about it.

dressagetraks
Feb. 21, 2008, 03:15 PM
From the horse's mouth:

You do not have to purchase advance tickets it is suggested to do so, reserved seats are $4.50 each, gate admission is $2.00 each and if you park in one of Oaklawn’s parking lot it is $2.00 to park. We are extremely packed that day 50,000 to 70,000 or more. Weather permitting our infield will be open we have bleacher seats out there we also have bleacher seating outside on the apron facing the race track. Outdoor seating is free. We open that morning at 10 am the first post time is 12 noon. We will also have about 300 seats go on sale that morning if you want to wait and come look around first. I hope this helps it is a very exciting day worth coming to see.

Woodsperson
Feb. 21, 2008, 05:14 PM
I haven't been in years, but I used to go with my dad back in my much younger days. Hot Springs is a great town-lots to do. I loved Oaklawn. Can't tell you abou the seating but I know Derby Day is packed. Usually some good horses running in the AR derby-a few times the KY Derby winner. I was spoiled though. We had a friend with a box on the glass at the finish line who used to take pity and give us his box.

pinkdiamondracing
Feb. 21, 2008, 06:15 PM
Quote:Originally Posted by Centsability
As far as stock running, it's the last KY Derby Prep Race, so there will be very nice horses running in it... (i.e. Curlin last year...)

UMMMMMM-- Technically the last prep for the Derby is the Bluegrass Stakes here at Keeneland:yes:

vineyridge
Feb. 21, 2008, 08:05 PM
Ah, but the Keeneland winner almost never wins the Ky Derby. :)

I'm thinking about heading west myself for the Oaklawn Derby. The Arlington Hotel is already fully booked, and most motel prices double for the weekend. It's too far to drive from here to there and back in one day, so accommodations will be necessary.

Forgot to ask: is there a dress code? I went to the Blue Grass Stakes once with my cousin who had owners' seats, and we had to dress all the way up with heels, hose and hats--dresses, too. :)

dressagetraks
Feb. 21, 2008, 08:33 PM
A dress code? Ack. Forgetaboutit. With a 5-hour drive in that morning and home that evening, I'll be wearing my usual uniform of blue jeans and tennis shoes. I will add a horsey sweatshirt or T-shirt for the occasion, weather depending.

Must also remember to add into trip budget figures the money for program, T-shirt, commemorative mug or facsimile thereof, outrageously priced lunch and drinks, cute little model horse in the shop they no doubt have, and plenty of film for the camera. And just a little bit, no more, of betting money.

I'm going to call tomorrow and reserve a ticket, and I'll report how it's looking in terms of seating sales. Hope all remaining seats aren't way back out of sight of the finish line.

SleepyFox
Feb. 22, 2008, 10:30 AM
Forgot to ask: is there a dress code? I went to the Blue Grass Stakes once with my cousin who had owners' seats, and we had to dress all the way up with heels, hose and hats--dresses, too. :)

It depends on where you are going. I wouldn't worry about it for grandstand seats - as long as you are basically decent, it's not a problem at any track I know - but if you have an upscale ticket for a box or dining room or will enter the paddock, ask.

dressagetraks
Feb. 22, 2008, 01:51 PM
Just ordered a ticket, and the day is completely booked except for some single seats left scattered around. It is almost sold out already. I asked for the finish line or as close to as possible, and she found me one between the two finish lines but with a kind of wall thing in front of me, so it hadn't gone yet. Long as I can see over, I don't mind a wall.

But there are no seats together remaining, and there aren't too many singles. If you want to go, I'd call the track ASAP.

dressagetraks
Mar. 16, 2008, 08:04 PM
Does anybody know if they saddle the horses on the turf course at Oaklawn, like they do for the Preakness? I was just watching a tape of the 2006 Ark Derby. It did not show the horses being saddled, because coverage was cutting in from another race, but at the first shot of the horses, they were circling on what looked like the turf course.

Countdown to the trip in place, and I'm definitely taking my camera. Horses against turf course would sure make for some purdy pictures. ;)

vineyridge
Mar. 17, 2008, 12:15 AM
Does Oaklawn even have a turf course? I thought I remembered that they didn't.

GallopGirl
Mar. 17, 2008, 03:00 AM
I used to work for a trainer at Oaklawn and have been to my share of derby days. It seems like you've gotten a lot of questions answered. I can help with anything else you're still wondering about, avoiding traffic, etc. Just drop me a PM.

Acertainsmile
Mar. 17, 2008, 11:22 AM
No turf at Oaklawn!

I spent a winter there, and it was wonderful... very nice, nice people..

The town loves racing, and the track always has a great crowd... not Keeneland, but close, LOL...

If you get a chance, DO visit one of the Spas downtown, you wont regret it! Enjoy!

dressagetraks
Mar. 29, 2008, 10:18 AM
List of nominations up on BH looks really good (War Pass, Pyro), but of course, most won't run. Anybody know which are definitely leaning toward intending to run in the Arkansas Derby?

I know it's too early for an official final list and stuff can still happen, but getting excited in advance is fun, too. :D

Foxtrot's
Apr. 1, 2008, 02:43 AM
The saddling enclosure is odd - sort of indoors, and you look down on them as they parade. I went there with a friend who went to a HBPA conference all the way from Canada.

You should go into the health spa they have there - the museum one - and realize how far the luxury trade has come! It is on the main drag of Hot Springs, although most of the spas are closed nowadays. Ask about mercury treatments!!

The stores have lots of nice horsey giftware, plus some nice antique stores.

miss_critic
Apr. 1, 2008, 05:26 PM
The handicap race this Saturday is shaping up to be really interesting. I can't wait to see what Heatseeker does on dirt. And this is big for Tiago to see if the last race meant anything about him and/or the "cushion".

vineyridge
Apr. 3, 2008, 11:47 PM
It looks like the "big" names are all skipping the Arkansas Derby.

I thought for sure Denis of Cork would run but he's going to Illinois (?) instead.

Anyone heard anything about who is planning to run?

Texarkana
Apr. 4, 2008, 09:57 AM
None of the heavy KD favorites are aiming for the Arkansas Derby at this point, which puts the horses that do run in a very sweet position! The $1mil purse will get the 1st and 2nd place finishers as good as in for the KD if they so desire.

I think Liberty Bull is aiming for the Arkansas Derby now. Not a real serious contender due to his lack of graded $, but he won the Winstar Derby last time out.

My Pal Charlie should also be running-- he ran 2nd to Pyro in the LA Derby.

Golden Yank, the horse who got bumped and squeezed in the final furlong of the Delta Jackpot and still made it in for 3rd (then wouldn't drop the issue) should also be running.

I guess Blackberry Road will be there, too. He was once considered quite the promising KD contender, but can never make it to the wire in time. Maybe this will be a field he can beat.

I think Z Fortune is aiming for the Arkansas Derby still? He also ran 2nd to Pyro earlier in the year, but didn't have the greatest race last time out.

And I'm trying to remember which CA-shippers are coming in... Indian Sun maybe?

It should still be a good race!