04/18/2012 11:38AM

New Favorite in Derby Watch

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The next-to-last Derby Watch of the year will be posted today (Wednesday), and for the first time all year, it will have a new Derby favorite.

For those who don’t know, the 20 horses Jay Privman and I list weekly on Derby Watch are ranked according to future book odds set by yours truly, and not by any personal preference. Since this year’s first Derby Watch over two months ago, Union Rags has been ranked first as the future book favorite. But he has now been supplanted by Bodemeister.

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders, profiles, odds and comments]

Right here, I should say that I agree with what seems to be the majority thought that it’s tough calling the favorite for the Derby at this moment. But I do feel it will be between Bodemeister, Union Rags, Creative Cause, and maybe – maybe – Gemologist. I don’t think it will be Hansen. I think he bowed out of the potential favorite’s role when he lost in the Blue Grass. And I don’t think it will be Dullahan no matter what his trainer, Dale Romans, says, because too many people (whether rightly or wrongly) question his ability on dirt.

The Kentucky Derby favorite could still be Union Rags or Creative Cause because they seem to have big fan clubs, and Creative Cause, after all, beat Bodemeister last month in the San Felipe. And I wouldn’t be shocked if Gemologist was favored because he is undefeated and a two time winner at Churchill. But I don’t sense Gemologist has as large a constituency as either Union Rags or Creative Cause, and you really don’t hear much talk about the Wood Memorial he won.

There is still plenty of time for things to change in the train up to the Derby. Injuries – either horse or jockey – a change in the pace scenario, or an incredible workout could have a profound affect on Derby odds. But right now, I think Bodemeister is the Derby future book favorite. Here’s why:

The fact that Bodemeister will be trying to become the first in 130 years to win the Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old is a big consideration for me. Since he is not merely attempting to make history, but actually has an excellent chance to do it, means people are going to talk a lot about the 2-year-old thing in the lead up to the Derby. That will keep Bodemeister’s name in the forefront with the public.

Certainly a huge factor has to do with why Bodemeister has such a good chance at making history: His performance. Bodemeister has earned three straight triple-digit Beyer Figures. Only four other Derby candidates have broken the triple-digit Beyer barrier, and they each did it only once. There is a distinct possibility that Bodemeister simply clearly better than everyone else, which is as good a reason as any for him to be the chalk.

Finally, while I think that the heart attack Bob Baffert, Bodemeister’s trainer, suffered in Dubai just a few weeks ago was shocking and unfortunate, it could play a lesser role here. The fact that Baffert is now recovering makes for a good feature story that will be oft-repeated in many outlets. The result will also help keep Bodemeister’s name prominent in the public’s consciousness, and that will translate into betting support.

david More than 1 year ago
Bode won't have secret circle blocking the field for him in the derby. Without SC, Bode would have been caught from behind in the Arkansas. Watch the replay.. SC inside outside, inside outside blocking any closer.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
David, What you may have seen was Secret Circle weaving due to pain... He did go out with an injury, right? If that's the case then Bejarano did a good job holding him together. If it looks like I'm making an excuse here, it's for the horse only. Mike Smith is probably the best handicapper in the jock's room but - - -
Ron Gillaspie More than 1 year ago
Not gonna be a lot of drama in this race. Union Rags is gonna be a lot closer to the pace than anyone has imagined. He will take the lead on the turn for home, pull away by maybe 5 lengths and put it on cruise control. If the track is fast, the time will be 2:01 or better. It's anybody's guess for 2nd and 3rd but you never can rule out Pletcher. Probably El Padrino, Gemologist and then Daddy Nose Best. Forget them so called pace horses and the deep closers. It ain't gonna happen.....
Mark Kennedy More than 1 year ago
im reading some of these comments and kind of chuckling especially at the one that matz is one of the best at getting his horses to peak at the ky derby he won it once with barbaro cmon lets get real union rags is a great horse with great potential but 3 out of 4 races his jockey has gotten him in trouble lets call a spade a spade 20 horses 10 more than what he has seen this yr he better be outside and sitting 5th going into the first turn to be in the mix This derby could be the best derby we have seen in years 10 horse from last yrs bc wining a prep in unheard of i could post at least 10 different scenarios giving each the derby win my hats off to those who think one of their horses is a lock i see 7 with a 80 percent chance or better and thats with a perfect track no for e ill wait another week or so
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I see six riders in here with that clock in his head and I've got the Headless Horseman. I still gotta figger Rags will outsmart him next week. I just like this horse that much...
Mark Kennedy More than 1 year ago
OH AND BOB I DONT QUESTIONS DULLAHANS Abilty i question why the jockey would basically come to a sliding stop after the wire in the blue grass it tells me he felt something no jockey would do something lkike that unless there was a problem
Mark Kennedy More than 1 year ago
ALEX T SORRY DUDE I HAVE TO COMMENT ON YOUR THOUGHT THAT THE MOST INTELLIGENT WILL CHOSE UR CC BO AND GEM WELL GUESS YOU HAVENT BEEN WATCHING THIS YR LITTLE FYI THERE HAVE BEEN 25 PLUS DIFFERENT WINNERS OF THE 30 PREPS THIS YR IF YOU THINK THOSE 4 ARE THE ONLY ONES CAPABLE OF WINING THEN YOU MUST NOT LUMP YOURSELF IN WITH THE MOST INTELIGENT DADDY NOSE BEST TAKE CHARGE INDY ILL HAVE ANOTHER ALPHA AND EVEN HANSEN NOW THAT TRINNBERG IS IN COULD VERY WELL WEAR THE ROSES DO YOUU HOMEWORK
Ron Gillaspie More than 1 year ago
Critics abound, myself included. Owners pay fees and many other costs before their young horses even step onto the track. They surely deserve the right to run in the derby if their horses qualify along the way. Years of running the derby has proven that it can be done safely with 20 starters. I've seen horses get into trouble running in a 5 horse field. Injuries happen in smaller fields. Look at Barbaro in the 2006 Preakness. Such a good horse!!! Most of this year's entries could cut back to 7F and run very good races so there is no harm in seeing if a sprint type can stretch out and succeed. One of the things that irks me the most is when a pace horse is allowed to go 26 and 50 and then pull away down the stretch. Let these 20 babies mix it up and if all the others can stay injury and trouble free, we're gonna have a horserace.
Willian J. Brune More than 1 year ago
I also remember a few years ago that Beyer himself voted against a horse that he gave the highest Beyer rating in the Derby and higher rated colt won. That's the occasional "right" call.
Willian J. Brune More than 1 year ago
I think, as former prez George H. W. Bush might say, that the Beyer rating is "voodoo handicapping" most of the time. I believe the way a horse actually runs is more important. For instance, Union Rags got only a 95 in th FOY whereas as you watch how he ran would indicate that he actually was running as if the 1 1/16 was just a breeze. And he did it in 1:42.3.
auraloasis More than 1 year ago
Tom, what are you talking about? The Derby gets wired on a regular basis. Spend-A-Buck, Winning Colors, Go For Gin, War Emblem, and a slew of just off the pace stalkers have done it and all of those made it look easy. With the likes of Hansen and other speed horses it doesn't bode well for Bodemeister which is why everyone will be obsessed with the pole position this year. I never thought Big Brown could overcome the 20 hole but he romped too, remember. Same for Fuschaisi Pegasus. If Bodemeister doesn't bounce he could easily wire this field. Not saying I'm going to be on it, but, there's no way I'm going to toss him out of the exotics -from top to bottom he's in!
Ron Gillaspie More than 1 year ago
Seems that this derby is shaping up for horses that lay close but not on the pace. They need a bit of luck to not lose contact with the pace, stay in the clear from horses backing up. My top four candidates are Union Rags on top, El Padrino for second, Gemologist for third and Daddy Nose Best for fourth. All of these runners have also shown ability on an "off" track which may turn out to be very helpful.