04/24/2012 1:50PM

2012 Kentucky Derby: Creative Cause following Harrington's plan perfectly

Shigeki Kikkawa
Creative Cause worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Hollywood Park on Tuesday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – From the time Creative Cause crossed the wire a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall at Churchill Downs, trainer Mike Harrington had his sights set on returning for the Kentucky Derby, and mapped out a plan to get there. He wanted three races this winter at Santa Anita, well spaced, concluding with the Santa Anita Derby, designed, as he put it, as “a progression.”

With the exception of narrow losses in both the San Vicente Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby, everything has gone exactly as Harrington would have hoped. Creative Cause knocked out a win in the San Felipe between those two losses. Here it is 24 1/2 weeks since the Breeders’ Cup, and Creative Cause is about to leave his home at Betfair Hollywood Park as one of the elite contenders for the 138th Kentucky Derby on May 5.

“Knock on wood, for once a plan worked out,” Harrington said at his barn on Tuesday morning, just after watching Creative Cause work five furlongs. “That’s kind of unbelievable.”

Creative Cause was one of two top Derby prospects to work on Tuesday. At Churchill Downs, Bodemeister – who won the Arkansas Derby after finishing second to Creative Cause in the San Felipe – was timed by Daily Racing Form in 1:00.62 for five furlongs.

[KENTUCKY DERBY WORKOUTS: Latest updates, Mike Welsch’s video reports]

Creative Cause completed his five furlongs in 1:00.20, according to Hollywood Park’s head clocker, Russell Hudak, who had Creative Cause completing his final quarter-mile in 24.60 seconds and galloping out six furlongs in 1:14. John Cisneros, a former jockey who is now Harrington’s assistant, was up for the work.

Most significantly, Creative Cause did not work with blinkers, and he will not race with them in the Kentucky Derby, Harrington said. Creative Cause removed blinkers for his last race, the Santa Anita Derby, in which he dropped a close decision to I’ll Have Another. Last week, Harrington worked Creative Cause in cheater blinkers, which are the least-restrictive type of blinker, since they have a very small cup. But he took those off for the work on Tuesday.

“Joel,” Harrington said, referring to jockey Joel Rosario, who rides Creative Cause in his races, “said he relaxes better without them, which could be important in the Kentucky Derby.”

Harrington said he also liked that Creative Cause “ran straight and true down the lane” in the Santa Anita Derby. In the San Felipe, wearing blinkers, he tended to wander, though he did win.

Creative Cause is scheduled to fly to Kentucky on Saturday, along with I’ll Have Another, who is trained by Doug O’Neill. Harrington said he plans to work Creative Cause once at Churchill Downs, ideally next Tuesday, as long as the weather cooperates.

“It depends on the weather,” he said. “I would prefer to breeze him, but he doesn’t have to.”

At Churchill Downs, Bodemeister had his first work since his overpowering victory 10 days earlier in the Arkansas Derby, which has made him the likely favorite for the Derby. His trainer, Bob Baffert, arrived in Louisville on Monday night and supervised Tuesday’s drill.

“I thought it was a nice work,” Baffert said. “He did it on his own. He could have gone 58 if we wanted him to.”

Bodemeister will be coming back on three weeks’ rest in the Kentucky Derby. In addition, he is trying to become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without having competed at age 2.

“I’m not worried at all,” Baffert said. “He’s got a huge foundation under him, he’s very fit, and he’s got a great mind. He’s only gotten hot once before any of his races. Post position is going to be so key.”

Bodemeister had a clear run in the Arkansas Derby, in which he started from the outside post. A field of 20 is likely for the Derby, and Baffert still wears the scars from when his champion colt Lookin at Lucky drew the rail in the 2010 Derby.

Bodemeister figures to be forwardly placed in the Derby, but Baffert said the addition of the speedy Trinniberg should not impact Bodemeister.

“I think he’ll be more of a hindrance to Hansen than me,” Baffert said. “Distance is not a problem for this horse.”

Bodemeister is scheduled to work once more, either Sunday or Monday, Baffert said.

Baffert, a three-time Derby winner, will have two horses in this Derby – Bodemeister (Mike Smith aboard) and Liaison (Martin Garcia).

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch