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Bodemeister: Start Of Something Special?
By Steven Crist
There are two ways of looking at this season's major Kentucky Derby preps, which concluded Saturday with the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby.
The first is that it's a closely-matched group of sophomores emerging from different regions with no clear leader. Mike Battaglia, who will make the Derby morning line, seemed to embrace this view when he said at the end of the CNBC telecast Saturday that he thought any of four horses might be favored May 5, that no one would be shorter than 5-1 or 6-1, and that the mantle of favoritism would probably go to whoever trains best over the next three weeks.
The second is that Bodemeister's stunning 9 1/2-length victory in the Arkansas Derby was a breakthrough performance that puts him head and shoulders above his contemporaries.
I vote for the latter. I'm not saying Bodemeister's a cinch to win the roses, and I'm not going to quarrel with anyone who has doubts about his lack of experience, but I do think he is absolutely the horse to beat in the Derby.
Bodemeister earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108 winning at Oaklawn Saturday, which is 10 to 14 points higher than the winning figures in this year's four other Grade 1 prep races for the classics: the Blue Grass (98), Wood Memorial (98), Florida Derby (95) and Santa Anita Derby (94). I don't think there's anything flukey about the figure. One race earlier, the G2 Oaklawn Handicap, which drew a G1-quality field of older horses including this year's Donn and Big 'Cap winners, was run in 1:49.94. Bodemeister ran the same distance in 1:48.71, which is 1.23 seconds faster.
Granted, the Oaklawn Handicap unfolded with a slow pace that worked against the closers and a faster final time: Alternation, who led all the way, ran his first six furlongs in 1:12.59 while Bodemeister was in front after 6f in 1:11.36. But it's not as if the older horses then finished up any faster: Bodemeister and Alternation came home in identical final three-eighths of 37.35, after Bodemeister ran the first six furlongs seven lengths faster.
At this point in his career, Bodemeister is reminiscent of another Arkansas Derby winner who did not make his racing debut until January: Curlin, who won the 2007 Arkansas Derby by 10 1/2 lengths with a 105 BSF in just his third career start. No, Curlin did not win the Derby, finishing third and keeping the Curse of Apollo alive -- no horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. Curlin did, however, go on to win that year's Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Breeders' Cup Classic and Horse of the Year title.
The addition of the speed horse will set up Bodemeister nicely. Hansen will try to go early and fade down the lane. Look for Bodemeister to come to them top of the lane and roll on by. Union will plod on and Gemologist may complete the exacta? The California duo were slow in the SA derby. If this horse continues to excell? You are looking at a triple crown champ!
I'll grant you that from a Beyer standpoint this horse stands out head & shoulders above above the crowd, and I'll also concede that his breeding suits this distance. I worry about seasoning, I worry about a bounce, and I'm terrified that a middle draw in this field may prove to be his undoing. Sure I'll play him but I'm inclined to accept 7-1 and no lower.
Bodemeister would have to be a super horse to win the Derby after his last race. Normal horses would have to bounce. If you bet Bodemeister your betting he's another Big Red or Slew, that is a tough bet. But he might be. Betting him to bounce is where the money is. But a real Triple Crown contender or dear I dream winner would be off the charts for the sport.
Are there any proofreaders working today? On the home page there's a headline about Bodemeister's workout on a hard, fast track at Churchill Downs. The first sentence of the lead story says he had a great work over a muddy track. ???
Off topic. that little banner ad that blocks off the bottom of the home page of DRF, is the most annoying little thing ever. How much longer do we have to look at it.
Steve - Saying a horse "is the one to beat, but not a cinch" and that his "stunning performance is a breakthrough one putting him head and shoulders aboive the rest" are two very different things. In my opinion, you have a 50-50 chance to get this horse right and you blew it. Did you ever see the way a thick Sunday newspaper folds up and is useless when it gets wet? Bosemiester will succomb to a legit pace and fold up the same way.......... You sound like Draynay.
Closers don't always win the Derby--Winning Colors comes to mind....that said, no one is mentioning Union Rags, who I think is a decent 3rd in the KD, but not in the same league as Bodemeister.
Bode ran his final furlong in 11.97 because he walked through the third split in 25 and change...like the good ride he had. Remember, Bode's final 3/8ths was actually slower than Hansen's in the BGS. Look it up. Context, context...Great run by Bode. But it must be kept in context.
If Mike Smith knows his horse, Bodemeister's a winner. Mike should be experienced enough to know how to deal with traffic. The Derby, to me, is a "horse and jockey" race. It's not just about the horse. So far, Bodemeister is my top pick.
No question he had things his own way but he crushed the field!! The Beyer boys are jumping around doing backflips because they have a nice comparison race and blah blah the fig is confirmed. Price should be right for anyone that likes Bode!! Take the rubberband off the bankroll.
- 1.Posted 04/12/2013 01:51PM
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