Bodemeister seemingly had the 2012 Kentucky Derby in his pocket turning for home under the Twin Spires, but it was I’ll Have Another who rallied down the lane to register the 1 ½ length score. It was a neck back to the hard charging Dullahan and ¾ of a length behind that one was Went The Day Well.
The top four finishers have exited the race in stellar condition and all except for Dullahan appear ready to tackle the Preakness Stakes on May 19. Other probables for the Preakness that are exiting the Derby include Creative Cause, Liaison, Hansen and Optimizer.
New shooters for the Preakness include Canonero II Stakes 1-2 finishers Pretension and Brimstone Island, 1-2 Derby Trial Stakes finishers Hierro and Paynter, Jerome Stakes winner The Lumber Guy and Arkansas Derby fourth place finisher Cozetti.
Mario Gutierrez & I’ll Have Another
This time last year jockey Mario Gutierrez was riding at Hastings in Canada’s British Columbia. Now, he is a Kentucky Derby winning jockey. Click here to read more about Gutierrez.
I’ll Have Another is a magnificent horse, but he largely won the Kentucky Derby because of a perfectly executed ride by Gutierrez. He had the horse in the perfect spot and didn’t lose much ground the entire way.
Equally important, he wasn’t stopped or impeded the entire way. Often times the Kentucky Derby is won by the best horse that gets the best trip. That is to take nothing away from this colt though. I’ll Have Another is beautifully bred and fresh; that means he will have at least a fighting chance to win the Triple Crown.
Team O’Neill & J Paul Reddam
I remember back in 2008 when trainer Doug O’Neill and owner Paul Reddam hooked up to win the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland with a talented colt named Square Eddie. They had brought the Canadian bred colt home from England where he had been racing after being sold for $200k at the Keeneland September Sale.
He was dismissed at odds of 10-1, but Reddam and O’Neill knew what they had with the son of Smart Strike. They even referred to him as “Baby Curlin” in honor of the reigning Horse of the Year that was by the same sire. This is just one of several examples of success O’Neill and Reddam have had together.
Now they are Kentucky Derby winners. It’s great to see a group like this take the most important race in the world. I’ve always been a fan of Doug O’Neill as he trained one of my favorite horses, Lava Man. I wish them the best of luck moving forward and would love to see them bring home the Triple Crown.
Mike Smith’s ride
Many take issue with Smith allowing Bodemeister to run off to the lead and set grueling fractions of :45.39 and 1:09.80. His charge entered the stretch with a three length lead and almost stole the race on the front end.
Detractors say he should have tucked in behind Trinniberg and waited to make a move. While that may have produced a better result, there is really no way to know for sure. Smith thought he had the best horse, laid his cards down the table, and came up just a little short. I cant criticize him; he rode the colt brilliantly.
Bodemeister is probably the best horse of his generation and sadly he entered the race a bit short on experience. If he can run the same race in the Preakness then he will likely win that race.
Union Rags just isn’t that good
We screamed it from the rooftops before this race and we were right. Union Rags just isn’t a very fast horse. He entered the Kentucky Derby as perhaps the sixth or seventh fastest horse in the race and that’s about how he ran as he ended up finishing seventh.
Many will point to a bad ride from Julien Leparoux. It wasn’t the greatest ride ever, but we must remember that he was pinched at the beginning and from the inside he really had no chance to position the horse.
Let’s not judge rider or horse based on a single race. Even with that said, I still feel Union Rags is rated much too highly. I’m not saying he wont come back and win a big race or two, but he wasn’t among the top 3 or 4 sophomores before the Triple Crown and he wont be when it ends.
The connections will point to the Belmont Stakes, a race where I expect the colt to struggle once more. A son of Dixie Union going 12 furlongs? Yea; good luck with that.
Horse to watch? Went The Day Well
For as much deserved hype as Bodemeister is getting, Went The Day Well ran equally well. Take a look at what John Velazquez had to say about his trip.
JOHN VELAZQUEZ (Went the Day Well, fourth) – “We didn’t break out of there well and it was screwed up from there on. I was actually just beating Julien (Leparoux, Union Rags) into the first turn, so that’s how far back we were. The horse next to me clipped heels coming out of the gate, so now I’ve got to steady and go inside of him. We go to the first turn and he gets pushed over and I have to steady again. Now I’m far back with Julien. Now I have to go around the horse in the first turn, got outrun three-wide, went back to the inside, and I got a good trip from there, but I was so far back I couldn’t make up that much ground, no way, not on this kind of track the way it is today.”
Alpha and Hansen can’t handle big crowds
Not yet, anyway. Both colts were quite worked up before the Kentucky Derby and likely lost all chance to win because of it. Hansen ended up ninth and Alpha was twelfth. The latter is going to get a little time off. The Belmont Stakes might be a logical spot for him. With his great stamina pedigree he would have a big shot of winning in that spot. Meanwhile, trainer Michael Maker and owner Kendall Hansen will make a decision on whether or not to send Hansen to the Preakness by the end of this week.
The 2012 Kentucky Derby has re-energized my passion for the Triple Crown. I have thought all along that this is the deepest and most contentious group of sophomores we have seen since 2007 and they proved me right. I look forward to watching the feats of speed that this group is sure to display in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.