(Reuters) - Is Nadal good enough to beat a Charlatan?
That was the question fans were asking after the two horses were separated into different races at the Arkansas Derby on Saturday.
With the Kentucky Derby, usually run on the first Saturday of May, postponed until September due to the coronavirus, the $1 million Arkansas Derby took centre stage, albeit without spectators on what is usually the biggest day on the American horse racing calendar.
The race over 1 1/8 miles (1,810 metres) for three-year-olds at Hot Springs was divided into two divisions and Charlatan, ridden by Martin Garcia, led all the way to convincingly win the first by six lengths.
But Nadal, named after the tennis player, was equally impressive in the second flight.
Jockey Joel Rosario guided the colt into the lead around the top turn on the Oaklawn Park dirt before pulling away to triumph by three lengths in one minute, 48.34 seconds, marginally faster than Charlatan’s 1:48.49.
Both winners, trained by Bob Baffert, remain unbeaten.
“He’s a champ,” Rosario said of Nadal.
He was speaking of the horse, though he could well have been talking about the 19-times grand slam champion.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina