By Steve Davidowitz | The Bob Baffert trained BODEMEISTER not only won the Arkansas Derby, he overpowered his stablemate SECRET CIRCLE by more than nine lengths and probably established himself as the likely morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2012.
DULLAHAN also was an impressive winner of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, rallying strongly a sluggish start to catch front running HANSEN inside the final 1/16 mile to draw clear late.
Combined, these two authoritative wins as well as the second and third place finishes by SECRET CIRCLE and SABERCAT in the Arkansas Derby, as well as HANSEN’S second in the Blue Grass pushed several potential Derby contenders out of the Top 20 Graded Earnings List needed to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Looking at their respective performances on Saturday, few horses in recent years have looked as Bodemeister, who won the Arkansas Derby in his fourth lifetime start as if he could have gone around the track again.
He now will go into the Kentucky Derby as a dominant speed horse with the ability to rate slightly off the pace. As a son of Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, he certainly has the inherent stamina to carry his form the full 1-1/4 mile Derby distance. His Hall of Fame trainer also knows his way around Churchill, having won three Kentucky Derbys, with two second place finishes since he burst on the Derby scene with Cavonnier, who lost the 1996 Derby by a nose to the D. Wayne Lukas trained GRINDSTONE in 1996.
Dullahan, a half brother to the 2009 upset Derby winner, MINE THAT BIRD, also has shipped to Churchill Downs where he will be ably trained by Dale Romans, one of the most prolific winning trainers of stakes class horses the past few years. Among the recent stars in the Romans’ stable are SHACKLEFORD, the 2011 Preakness Stakes winner and PADDY O; PRADO, who finished a solid third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
For his part, Dullahan now has won two Graded stakes in his productive career and both were on the Polytrack at Keeneland. While that might seem to label this colt as a confirmed ‘synthetic track specialist,’ be reminded that Dullahan was a good fourth to Hansen, UNION RAGS and CREATIVE CAUSE after a slow start in the 1-1/16 mile, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill last fall. As Romans pointed out before and after the Blue Grass, Dullahan is well suited to the Derby’s 1-1/4 mile distance and would greatly benefit from a fast pace.
Yet, even beyond these two fine winning performances in the rich Derby preps at Keeneland and Oaklawn Park on Saturday, there are many disappointed owners and trainers who thought they were going to the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Among the ones on the outside looking in are OPTIMIZER and HOWE GREAT, while REVERON might make it even though he is not going to run as first scheduled in the $200,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, Saturday, Apr. 21. Beyond that, Bob Baffert has CASTAWAY in the Lexington Stakes and STIRRED UP in the $200,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on the same day.
Speaking of Optimizer, there remains a slim chance that Lukas might enter the colt who was such a strong second to Secret Circle in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn last month that Optimizer might go in the $200,000 Derby Trial Stakes at one mile on opening Day at Churchill Downs, Apr. 28.
With all of that, here is the current Kentucky Derby Graded stakes Earnings List along with their respective trainers and a few final notes:
1. Hansen–Michael Maker–$1,550,000
2. Daddy Long Legs–Aidan O’Brien–$1,294,030
3. Union Rags–Michael Matz–$1,170,000
4. Dullahan–Dale Romans–$855,000
5. Creative Cause–Mike Harrington–$836,000
X6. Wrote (IRE)–Aidan O’Brien–$756,630
7. Gemologist–Todd Pletcher–$703,855
8. Sabercat–Steve Asmussen–$701,429
9. Take Charge Indy–Patrick Byrne–$698,400
10. Secret Circle–Bob Baffert–$670,000
11. Bodemeister–Bob Baffert–$660,000
X12. Hero of Order–Gennadi Dorochenko–$617,375
13. I’ll Have Another–Doug O’Neill–$601,000
14. Daddy Nose Best–Steve Asmussen–$545,558
15. Liaison–Bob Baffert–$393,000
16. Alpha–Kiaran McLaughlin–$380,000
?17. Prospective–Mark Casse–$367,327
?18. Trinniberg–Bisnath Parboo–$324,500
19. Done Talking–Hamilton Smith–$311,000
20. Went the Day Well–Graham Motion–$282,000
21. Rousing Sermon–Jerry Hollendorfer–$270,000
22. Mark Valeski–Larry Jones–$260,000
23. El Padrino–Todd Pletcher–$250,000
24. Reveron–Agustin Bezara–$220,000
25. Isn’t He Clever–Henry Dominguez–$188,000
26. Optimizer–D. Wayne Lukas–$184,708
27. Castaway–Bob Baffert–$162,000
28. Currency Swap–Teresa Pompay–$150,000
29. My Adonis–Kelly Breen–$140,000
30. Brother Francis–James Cassidy–$135,000
31. Battle Hardened–Eddie Kenneally–$127,000
32. Genten–Yoshito Yahagi–$123,826
33. Mr. Bowling–Larry Jones–$115,848
34. Howe Great–Graham Motion–$112,500
35. Jack’s in the Deck–Robin Graham–$105,000
36. Longview Drive–Jerry Hollendorfer–$102,834
37. Scatman–Michael Lauer–$101,875
38. State of Play–Graham Motion–$100,000
38. Morgan’s Guerilla–Michael Maker–$100,000
40. Shared Property–Thomas Amoss–$99,700
41. Fly Lexis Fly–Arturo Morales–$99,481
42. Stirred Up–Baffert–$96,000
43. Tiger Walk–Ignacio Correas IV–$90,000
Added Notes: HERO OF ORDER, in 12th place, is not nominated to Triple Crown and thus would require a $200,000 supplementary payment when post positions are drawn at Churchill on Wednesday, May 2. Yet, even with that, he would not get a starting post position ahead of any original or late nominee. So in essence, he’s eliminated, which moves every horse below him up one slot. . .PROSPECTIVE, the Tampa Bay Derby winner is on the fence for the Derby after his poor try in the Blue Grass; while TRINNIBERG, in 18th, is a one turn specialist whose connections are leaning far away from running in the 1-1/4 spring classic. Should he not be entered, another horse would move into the Top 20.
So, as it looks going into the Lexington Stakes, the Jerome Stakes and the Derby Trial next week, numbers 21 through 24 on the Graded Earnings List should get into the Derby, with room for that to change if Castaway wins the race at Keeneland tomorrow, or if Optimizer actually runs and wins the Derby Trial.
2012 Triple Crown Betting at Bovada Racebook.