by Robert Boswell
Bay colt foaled April 28, 2009
Empire Maker—Untouched Talent by Storm Cat
Owner: Zayat Stables, LLC & Southern Equine Stables
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith
On the track: Bodemeister is named for the Bob Baffert’s son, Bode, so you know he has high hopes for this colt. Being so gifted with 2-year-olds, it’s not often you see Baffert this patient with such a talented runner, but Bodemeister didn’t make his first start until January 16th. He lost that day, going 5 ½ furlongs, but put in a solid effort and returned to blow the field away at a mile with a 101 Beyer. With not much time to amass graded stakes earnings needed to get to the starting gate the first Saturday in May, he was entered right into the second leg of the Santa Anita 3-year-old prep series, the San Felipe (GII). There he met leading California-based 3-year-old, Creative Cause, and gave him all he could handle. Bodemeister took the lead on the far turn and ran his heart out in his second start, only to be caught late and lose by less than a length to Creative Cause, who was making his seventh start at the time. The two parted ways for their final preps, with Bodemeister going to the Arkansas Derby (GI) at Oaklawn. Here he not only secured the earnings to guarantee him a spot in the Kentucky Derby (GI) starting gate, but also put in a performance impressive enough to make him the probable favorite to win the Roses. After leading all the way around and turning in very speedy fractions, Bodemeister drew off in the stretch, repelling a bid from stablemate Secret Circle, to win by nine lengths in the most impressive Derby prep performance of the year.
Storylines: Bob Baffert has always had a special relationship with his son, Bode. He brings him to the winner’s circle, puts him in his lap for television interviews, and his adoration for his son is obvious to anyone that sees the two together for any amount of time. It would be extremely sentimental for Baffert to win the Derby with a horse named after his son. Also, Baffert just recovered from a heart attack he suffered while in Dubai to saddle a couple starters on the Dubai World Cup card. He was hospitalized but seems to be doing well at this point. With a new found appreciation for life, Baffert would likely celebrate his fourth Derby win as if it were his first.
Pros: Trainer, pedigree, three consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures
Cons: Curse of Apollo, speed in a speed-filled race