05/08/2012 5:27PM

Kentucky Derby aftermath: Top 5 questions


Before we move on to the Preakness, we need to take a look back at the burning questions remaining from this year's Kentucky Derby and what they mean going forward in the Triple Crown season:

1. Is Trinniberg to blame for Bodemeister not holding on to win?
When speedster Trinniberg was entered in the Derby last week, the immediate popular reaction was that he'd ruin the pace for the other speeds, namely Bodemeister and Hansen. But Trinniberg did not succeed in making the lead at any point in the race. According to the official Kentucky Derby race chart, he ran second behind Bodemeister all the way up until the one-mile mark before quickly fading to 17th place.

Bodemeister went straight to the lead and set blistering fractions of 22.32 seconds, equaling the Derby's fifth-fastest quarter ever; a half-mile in 45.39, the fifth-fastest half-mile; and six furlongs in 1:09.80, the fourth-fastest six furlongs. [Bodemeister's fast fractions take toll]

Shortly after the race, NYRA's Andy Serling posted on Twitter: "It is too bad that Trinniberg cost a monster like Bodemeister the win but I guess that's racing." Said Bodemeister trainer Bob Baffert, "I'll have nightmares about [Trinniberg]."

The million-dollar question heading into the Preakness: Did Bodemeister have to run that fast because of Trinniberg, who may very well be the best sprinter in this class, or is Bodemeister incapable of rating on the lead?

2. Bodemeister has been run hard with two huge races in the past three weeks. If he returns in the Preakness Stakes, as are the early indications, does he deserve to be the favorite?

Said DRF's Steven Crist: "As Derbies go, that was a pretty satisfying one. I'll Have Another was a thoroughly deserving winner under a masterful ride from Mario Gutierrez. But I think the Preakness favorite might be ... Bodemeister." [Crist: 2012 Derby Day]

Said DRF's Mike Watchmaker: "But man, let me say what is sure to be said by so many after this Derby: What a monster race Bodemeister ran in defeat. For Bodemeister to finish second after setting that insanely fast early pace suggests that he is indeed a very special colt -- quite likely, with all due respect to I'll Have Another, the best of his generation. But I wouldn't expect Bodemeister to prove that in the Preakness, or any time soon. He had a busy schedule to make the Derby, and with his gut wrenching performance Saturday, I would guess he is going to need more time to recover than a mere two weeks." [Watchmaker: Derby Day at the Downs]

For his part, Pimlico morning-line maker Frank Carulli said Tuesday that if all three of the Derby's top finishers enter the Preakness, he will make Bodemeister the favorite, with I'll Have Another the second betting choice and Dullahan third.


3. Union Rags was slow to get out of the gate for the second consecutive race, going back to the Florida Derby loss. According to the chart, "UNION RAGS bumped and squeezed back at the start, was outrun along the rail ..." Is jockey Julien Leparoux to blame? Should he remain on the mount going forward?

That sounds harsh but it appears that Union Rags's connections may be asking the same questions. "We talked about it with Julien and we wanted to be third or fourth coming out of the first turn," Union Rags trainer Michael Matz said. "There’s a big difference between third and 18th. It seemed like everything Julien tried put him in the wrong situation. I guess he just couldn’t get it done." As DRF's Mike Welsch reported, Matz said he would discuss the jockey situation with the horse’s owners. [Matz calls Union Rags’s race a disaster]

4. Is it safe to say third-place finisher Dullahan is not a synth specialist?
Dullahan came into the Derby with a pair of Grade 1 stakes victories on his past performances. Both wins, however, came on the Keeneland synthetic track. Does his third-place showing remove doubts about his dirt worthiness? Watchmaker believes so: "Dullahan ran well to just miss getting second from Bodemeister. And while he isn't in the same class as Bodemeister, I think Dullahan proved that he can indeed handle dirt." [Watchmaker: Derby Day at the Downs]

5. Which horse had the least excuse for not winning?
Many disappointing performances to choose from here: Where was Alpha? Gemologist? Daddy Nose Best? Jump into the comments and make a case.