MONTICELLO, Ark. – University of Arkansas at Monticello alum has horse running in Arkansas Derby Saturday with hopes in racing in the Kentucky Derby in September.
Blink and you could miss it. There may be Kelly Green and White running around, and they will not be on the typical playing field of Cotton Boll Stadium, or the hardwood of Steelman Field House, but this Saturdaythey could be at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the Arkansas Derby. They could also be running around at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky in September.
Since early March, we’ve been longing for sports, and although it won’t be in our common arena with our typical student-athletes, we recommend you tune in, because you might miss some University of Arkansas at Monticello faithful running in one of the greatest spectacles in sports.
The Arkansas Derby lets loose this Saturday and we should be on the lookout for the horse, Wells Bayou. Former Boll Weevil receiver and UAM hall of famer Lance Gasaway is part owner of the horse, who has recently come into some success and perhaps is one of the favorites to win the Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby.
Lance, normally a farmer of rice, cotton, corn and beans, has also been dabbling in horse racing for about seven years. It started in his first three years of claiming some lower-tier horses, but he recently decided to get a little more serious and purchase.
Catalogs were sent out; 700 horses were in the sale. The horses were vetted, the trainer, Brad Cox agreed and lo and behold, Wells Bayou was purchased in April 2019.
From there, the three-year old Colt has seen success coming in second in the Southwest Stakes and winning the Louisiana Derby, which allowed it to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Lance, who is definitely proud and excited says, “even consideration for the Kentucky Derby is just a blessing.”
However, Wells Bayou is not there yet. If it were not for the COVID-19 pandemic, we would not see Wells Bayou in the Arkansas Derby this week, but rather the Kentucky Derby, which usually takes place on the first Saturday in May.
But even though the Kentucky Derby has been pushed to September, Lance wanted to run this race in Arkansas for the Arkansas faithful who have been there since the beginning. “Although we are taking a chance by doing this, a lot of people support what we are doing. We owe it to everybody to run the horse here,” said Lance.
One of those supporters is someone who has been there before, also a UAM Athletics graduate and long-time supporter, Michael Hui. Michael is no stranger to horse racing. He has claimed approximately a half-dozen to a dozen or so horses who have had a multitude of success.
Hui is the kind of a guy who you would like to have in your corner finding a knack for horse racing. He has dabbled in claim horses similar to Gasaway, but really found his niche in turf horses.
His most recent successful horse, Zulu Alpha, won the Gulfstream Park’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup on turf back in January. Hui called it “almost an out-of-body experience”. It was his first Grade 1 stakes race, but four-and-a-half months earlier Zulu Alpha also won at the Kentucky Downs’ Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup.
Hui has always been someone who has enjoyed the racetrack. The owner from Little Rock has amassed over $5 million in career earnings since getting into horse racing in 2010.
He also was a silent partner in the most recent Triple Crown winner Justified. He said, “I was in the right place at the right time.”
Hui expects Wells Bayou to run in the Arkansas Derby and hopefully have success. Either way, he will be like most of us, aching for sports and cheering on the Kelly Green and White. And we really mean that you can cheer on the Kelly Green and White.
Gasaway got to design his own silks and Wells Bayou will be draped in the Kelly Green and White as it makes it’s run in Oaklawn Park.
Ben A. Matos
Assistant Athletics Director for Athletics Communications
The University of Arkansas at Monticello
Work Phone – (870) 460-1758
Cell Phone – (570) 460-4013
Email – MatosB@uamont.edu