Week of April 16, 2012
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
While upsets were the order of the day at Keeneland, the 2012 Kentucky Derby started to come into sharper focus, and the picture looks good!
The 2012 Kentucky Derby preps ended with a bang on Saturday as Dullahan and Bodemeister threw their hats into the “deserving of consideration” ring with emphatic wins. Unlike the past few years, this year’s field is crowded with contenders who are worthy of consideration. Union Rags, Gemologist, Alpha, I’ll Have Another, Creative Cause, Take Charge Indy, Hansen and now Bodemeister and Dullahan have all shown at some point on the trail that they should be taken seriously.
In the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes (chart) at Keeneland, favorite Hansen tried to take them wire to wire, shooting out of the gate to grab the early lead. But second choice Dullahan kicked for home to ran down the favorite, marking the tenth year in a row that the favorite lost the Blue Grass. Both Dullahan and Hansen already had the earnings, leaving hope for some of the horses of the bubble.
Unlike Hansen, Bodemeister was able to take the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby (chart) field all the way, pulling away to win by an emphatic 9 1/2 lengths, the third largest winning margin in the race’s history. On Sunday trainer Bob Baffert tweeted that jockey Mike Smith would retain the mount on Bodemeister for the Derby and it was reported that Garrett Gomez would take over the mount on Daddy Nose Best. Daily Racing Form’s Jay Pivman noted that, Bodemeister will attempt to become the first since 1882 to win the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. Dual Horse of the Year Curlin was the recent “best in class” to attempt this feat.
In addition to Bodemeister, second and third place Arkansas Derby runners Secret Circle and Sabercat will also point to the Derby. This was not great news for El Padrino, currently 23rd on the earnings list and still hoping to get in. Trinniberg, currently at 18, is still looking likely to skip the Derby and might go the April 28 Derby Trial Stakes.
Updates: Aiden O’Brien announced that UAE Derby winner Daddy Long Legs, currently second in the graded earnings, will ship to America for the Derby but that Wrote would skip the Derby. Prospective, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby currently #16 in earnings, is 50/50 for the Derby given his performance in the Blue Grass and Alpha is staying at Aqueduct for the time being with an infection, but his connections are still hopeful that he can make it to the Derby.
Elsewhere upsets were the order of the day with only a few exceptions. At Keeneland Groupie Doll in the Grade 1 Vinery Madison (chart), Data Link in the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile (chart), Daisy Devine in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes (chart) and Lonesome Street in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Stakes (chart) were all upset winners. Daisy Devine, a $5,500 yearling purchase, scored the her first Grade 1 win, the first Grade 1 for her sire Kafwain and her trainer Andrew McKeever, bringing her turf record to a perfect 4-4. Her next stop is likely to be the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard.
It was also a good weekend for former claimers. Perfect Officer scored his third stakes victory since being by claimed by his current owners and set a course record doing it in the Grade 3 Shakertown Stakes (chart) at Keeneland. Caixa Eletronica, claimed in March of last year by his current owner, scored his second graded stakes win with an upset in the Charles Town Classic, making the 7-year-old a newly minted millionaire with earnings of $1,118,205 from 52 starts.
Last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty kicked off her 4-year-old campaign with a solid win in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom (chart) at Oaklawn Park. Fellow 4-year-old filly It’s Tricky notched her second graded win in two starts this year in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap (chart) at Aqueduct, although her victory was not as elegant or easily earned as Plum Pretty’s. No word on the next start for Plum Pretty but the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps was mentioned as a potential target for It’s Tricky.
Did you play any Future Wagers this year? Now that the 2012 Kentucky Derby and 2012 Kentucky Oaks fields are more in focus, check-in with the will-pays on your tickets and see where you stand! Over the next two weeks will be updating our annual Derby handicapping posts, so check back often! And, did you enter our Trip to the Triple Crown contest? We’re in the process of doing notifications and will announce the winner once notifications are complete… thanks to all who entered!
Check probable starters at Horse Racing Nation’s Stakes Tracker
See you at the track!