05/08/2017 12:16PM

With Always Dreaming, Bodemeister gets a Derby winner in his first crop

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Barbara D. Livingston
Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is from Bodemeister's first crop.

With five straight favorites winning the Kentucky Derby, he has become the answer to a trivia question: Who is the Derby’s most recent losing favorite?

The answer is Bodemeister, a game second to I’ll Have Another in both the Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Now a young stallion at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., Bodemeister has gotten revenge in a big way, with Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming in his first crop.

Bodemeister, a son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, showed both brilliance and stamina in his races. He came into the Kentucky Derby off a 9 1/2-length romp in the Arkansas Derby in just his fourth start. After setting a brisk pace in the Derby, prompted by eventual sprint champion Trinniberg, he was collared by I’ll Have Another in the final furlong and finished second by 1 1/2 lengths.

Bodemeister again set the pace in the Preakness and was beaten a neck, with the top two finishing 8 3/4 lengths clear of the rest of the field.

In Always Dreaming, who prompted the Derby pace before taking command, Bodemeister seems to have passed on his own attributes from both sides of his pedigree.

“Bodem Bodemeister, Always Dreaming’s sister, is out of a Storm Cat mare, and I think that speed, blended with Empire Maker’s distance, makes him a very formidable package,” WinStar president and chief executive Elliott Walden said.

In addition to Always Dreaming, Bodemeister’s first crop includes multiple stakes winners Bode’s Dream and O Dionysus and graded-stakes-placed Royal Copy and American Anthem.

Bodemeister is continuing a prominent run for the male line of his grandsire, Unbridled. The 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Unbridled has sired a winner of each leg of the Triple Crown, with 1996 Derby winner Grindstone in his first crop followed by 2000 Preakness Stakes winner Red Bullet and Belmont winner Empire Maker.

Grindstone, in turn, sired 2004 Belmont winner Birdstone – who got a pair of classic winners from his first crop in 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird and Belmont winner and Eclipse Award champion Summer Bird.

Unbridled also had Unbridled’s Song in his first crop. Unbridled’s Song has posthumously been represented by North America’s all-time leading earner, Arrogate, as well as champion Will Take Charge and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Liam’s Map, both now young stallions in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Empire Maker, repatriated to Kentucky for last season after standing several years in Japan, is living up to his name, with a pair of Kentucky Derby runners-up who have gone on to be classic sires for WinStar in Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister. Pioneerof the Nile produced 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in his second crop.

“It is the foremost line if you want a two-turn dirt or classic-type horse,” Walden said. “We’re very fortunate at WinStar to have Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister, the two most prominent sons of Empire Maker. Pioneerof the Nile is an amazing stallion, to have two champions in his first four crops, and for Bodemeister to do what he has ... The Unbridled sire line is carrying on strongly, and it’s the most formidable sire line for two-turn dirt in America.”

Bodemeister looks poised to continue on strongly. According to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred, he covered 174 to 176 mares in each of his first four years at stud. Although young stallions may experience a drop-off in mare quality until their first foals are proven, last year his book included Kentucky Oaks winner and champion Bird Town, Star of Goshen (the dam of Pioneerof the Nile), and other accomplished racemares.

“His demand has been through the roof,” Walden said. “He’s been the most popular horse we’ve ever had, and the quality of his mares is really strong.”