05/16/2012 5:30PM

2012 Preakness: This time, Bodemeister's speed may carry all the way

Barbara D. Livingston
Bodemeister, with trainer Bob Baffert at Pimlico, is the morning-line Preakness favorite.

BALTIMORE – He was second at the Kentucky Derby, but he will be the first choice at the Preakness Stakes. Despite being defeated as the favorite two weeks ago in the first leg of the Triple Crown, Bodemeister will be the favorite again on Saturday in the 137th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, in which he will try to deny the Derby winner, I’ll Have Another, from advancing to the June 9 Belmont Stakes with a chance to complete the Triple Crown.

Bodemeister drew post 7, and I’ll Have Another landed post 9, on Wednesday evening when posts were drawn for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, which has a field of 11. Daddy Nose Best is between them, in post 8.

[PREAKNESS STAKES: PPs, contender profiles, video, latest news]

The lone development Wednesday to the field composition was the defection of Guyana Star Dweej, who would have been a decided longshot in the $1 million race.

Frank Carulli, who makes the morning line at Pimlico, and Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form’s national handicapper, agree that Bodemeister, trained by Bob Baffert, will be the favorite. Carulli has Bodemeister at 8-5, with Watchmaker assigning Bodemeister a price of 9-5.

I’ll Have Another is 5-2 on Carulli’s line, but Watchmaker has the gap between the favorite and second choice much closer, pegging I’ll Have Another at 2-1.

Both Carulli and Watchmaker have Creative Cause, who was fifth in the Derby, and Went the Day Well, who was fourth, the co-third choices at 6-1.

Doug O’Neill, who trains I’ll Have Another, was happy with the draw.

“Being outside of Bodemeister I think is a good thing,” O’Neill said.

Bodemeister ran a remarkable race in the Derby, in which he carved out swift fractions, kicked away at the top of the stretch, but then ran out of gas in the final furlong. After successive quarter-miles of 22.32 seconds, 23.17, and 24.41 – for a six-furlong split of 1:09.80, the fourth fastest in Derby history – Bodemeister ran his fourth quarter in 25.39, and his final quarter in approximately 26.80.

“The way he moves over the ground, he doesn’t look like he’s going that fast,” Baffert said. “At the quarter pole, it looked like he was giving everyone the slip. At the eighth pole, he had a little surge. But at the sixteenth pole, he was stopping.”

The fast fractions were the result of two things – Baffert and jockey Mike Smith agreed to seize the opportunity if Bodemeister broke well, which he did, but they were pressured by the sprinter Trinniberg, who faded to 17th, 30 lengths behind Bodemeister.

There is no Trinniberg in this race, so the pace should be far more advantageous to Bodemeister.

“Looking at it over and over,” Smith said, “maybe there’s some things you’d change, but if not for Trinniberg, I think we’d have stolen the race. I’m proud of him. That sucker ran good.”

What finally sold Baffert on running, though, is that Bodemeister bounced out of the race in good shape, good enough to wheel him back in two weeks. Baffert has won the Preakness five times, twice with horses – Lookin at Lucky and Point Given – who redeemed themselves after failing as the favorite in the Derby.

“After the race, he cooled out really quick,” Baffert said Wednesday. “His hair and everything looks good.”

Bodemeister will have quite the entourage on Saturday. In addition to Bode Baffert, the trainer’s 7-year-old son, for whom Bodemeister is named, the rooting section will also include skier Bode Miller, for whom Bode Baffert was named.

Bodemeister arrived at Pimlico at 4 p.m. Wednesday following a flight from Louisville. The flight originated in California, where Creative Cause is based, and stopped in Kentucky to pick up horses traveling from Churchill Downs to Pimlico for the weekend, including Preakness runners Cozzetti and Daddy Nose Best.

After Bodemeister was led off the van to the stakes barn, Baffert himself walked the horse around the shed row, but after one lap, he began to fade. Baffert, not Bodemeister.

“The over-under is three laps,” said Baffert, who suffered a heart attack in late March in Dubai. “I picked the wrong horse. He’s dragging me around here.”

Went the Day Well arrived at Pimlico earlier in the day from the nearby Fair Hill Training Center, where he has been based since the Derby.

On Wednesday morning, I’ll Have Another had another strong training session here. He galloped nearly two miles, including a spirited quarter-mile through the stretch the second and final time. He was clocked by Daily Racing Form going from the eighth pole to the seven-eighths pole in 28.11 seconds, faster than a two-minute clip.

“He looks fantastic, has great energy,” O’Neill said. “He’s maintaining that beautiful, long stride.”

The Preakness will be the 11th race on a 13-race card that begins at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. Post time for the Preakness is listed as 6:18 p.m. It is the second half of a double wager that begins with the Pimlico Special on Friday.

The Preakness will be televised live by NBC, in a two-hour telecast beginning at 4:30 p.m. The NBC Sports Network will televise two hours of the Preakness undercard, beginning at 2:30 p.m., and there will be a half-hour post race show on NBCSN beginning at 6:30.

The forecast from Weather.com for Saturday is for an ideal day, with a high temperature of 79 degrees and no chance of rain.

– additional reporting by David Grening

Preakness Stakes (G1), Post Time: 6:05 ET Saturday

Purse: $1,000,000; 1 3/16 miles





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