05/03/2012 1:16PM

Beyer: Bodemeister over Daddy Nose Best in cold exacta

Barbara D. Livingston
Daddy Nose Best, coming off a Sunland Park Derby win, will be a stretch-running threat in a Kentucky Derby expected to be run with a lively pace.

To anyone who calls himself a speed handicapper, there should be no doubt about the identity of the best colt in the Kentucky Derby. When Bodemeister won his final prep race, the Arkansas Derby, he appeared to be in a class by himself.

Bodemeister did not merely demolish his rivals by 9 1/2 lengths. He ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.71, just after a solid field of older horses in the Oaklawn Park Handicap had covered the same distance in 1:49.94. It is unusual – and a convincing mark of excellence – for a young horse to run so much faster than high-class elders. No member of this 3-year-old crop has given a performance nearly as good.

Some of them have records that are superficially impressive. Hansen and Union Rags ran one-two in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall and have continued to display good form this spring. The Todd Pletcher-trained Gemologist is undefeated in five career starts. But they’ve been slow – painfully slow.

The average winning Beyer Speed Figure in the Kentucky Derby is 108, and top contenders are expected to approach that number in their prep races. Hansen and Union Rags have never run better than 96. Gemologist’s modest 98 in the Wood Memorial Stakes was the best in any Grade 1 event for 3-year-olds – until Bodemeister unleashed a 108 at Oaklawn Park.

This was no fluke; he had run back-to-back numbers of 101 in his two prior starts at Santa Anita. He has as many triple-digit speed figures as the rest of the field combined.

[KENTUCKY DERBY: Get PPs, watch analysis video, read latest updates]

Despite his superior talent, Bodemeister faces two potential pitfalls at Churchill Downs. He is short of experience, with only four career starts, and such lightly raced horses have a poor record in the Derby, though Bob Baffert’s training should help him overcome this disadvantage The more serious problem that Bodemeister will face is the expected fast pace of the Derby.

The sprinter Trinniberg is as quick as any horse of his generation, and he’ll be flying through the early furlongs until he runs out of gas. Hansen possesses blazing speed, too, and his jockey has rarely been able to harness it. Bodemeister has set or pressed the pace in each of his races, and several other members of the field are speedy types, too.

All of the jockeys will hope to restrain their mounts so they are not harmed by Trinniberg’s fast early fractions, but this is easier said than done. When the leader in the Derby runs the first half-mile in 46 seconds or faster (which Trinniberg could do in his sleep), all of the horses near the lead are apt to collapse. Three times since 2000 the Derby has been run with a sub-46-second pace, and the winners rallied from 15th, 13th, and 18th place, respectively.

[KENTUCKY DERBY FIELD: Watchmaker's odds, video contender profiles]

I hope Bodemeister has such talent that he can withstand a hot pace but that the other quick horses aren’t good enough to do so, and in playing trifectas and superfectas I’ll throw out all of them. Hansen won’t be on any of my tickets, nor will Gemologist, I’ll Have Another, or Take Charge Indy — all of them winners of Grade 1 races.

Although the pace scenario should favor stretch-runners, most of the colts with the right running style don’t have convincing credentials – not even Union Rags, the probable second choice in Derby wagering. Racing fans remember how Michael Matz trained Barbaro brilliantly in 2006 and got him to deliver a peak performance in the Derby. They expect him to do the same with Union Rags and, indeed, Matz said: “Since we’ve brought him to Kentucky, he’s starting to peak.” But just how good is Union Rags? He couldn’t catch the tiring Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and he didn’t have enough late punch when he lost the Florida Derby in his last start. These are Union Rags’s speed figures in his last five starts, beginning in August: 95, 92, 94, 95, 93. If Matz has an ace in the hole, he’s concealing it pretty well.

Alpha will get plenty of support after encountering some trouble in the Wood Memorial, but the trouble was overrated and he was losing ground to Gemologist in the final yards of the race. Creative Cause rallied to beat Bodemeister in the San Felipe Stakes, but his subsequent nose loss in the Santa Anita Derby was a mild disappointment.

Of the stretch-running threats in the 138th Derby, the most credible may be Daddy Nose Best. He never attracted much attention as a Derby candidate because he spent the majority of his career running on the turf. But when he finally got the chance to run beyond a mile on dirt, he rallied to win the Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico. Although this was a relatively minor prep race with a relatively weak field, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 – the best last-race number in the field except for Bodemeister. With the right style, a solid foundation of experience, and one of the nation’s leading trainers in Steve Asmussen, the 15-1 shot is a strong contender.

Before Bodemeister performed so brilliantly in Arkansas, I was planning to pick and bet Daddy Nose Best in the Derby. But as a speed handicapper, I have to believe in Bodemeister. I will play trifectas and superfectas using both Bodemeister and Daddy Nose Best in the top spot, with a mix of stretch-running types underneath them. But my key Derby play is a cold exacta: Bodemeister-Daddy Nose Best.

© 2012 The Washington Post

JIM TURANO More than 1 year ago
Your selections this past saturday made the most sense, logically and with expertise decision making with the greatest of credentials too. A thought on the outcome please. HORSEPLAYERS OF AMERICA. THE ONES THAT CAN BE CORRECT AT LEAST 50% OF THE TIME AND BETTER. JUST A THOUGHT ABOUT THIS HOMICIDE. The horse that won the Kentucky Derby, with all logic, past performances, ratings, speed figures, and recent past races didn't figure in the final equation of the results this past saturday at all. Having said this, when there is room for potential explanation of logic look to the man that was killed. Think for a moment. Did he give that HORSE something just before the race or after testing was done before the race earlier? Possible? Well where there lies a Potential, then elimination of the direct culprit, results in that old Movie classic, 'Dead men tell no tales'. Strange? Far Fetched? Everyone knows there is a reason for everything in life. Sometimes the Obvious can not be seen, like an elusion. OLD CHARLIE CHAN DETECTIVE SMELLS SOMETHING. Strange if in the next race, in Baltimore the winner of the Derby isn't 1,2, or 3rd. in that results? And that would be more confirmation on my deduction of why this man was killed. MAKES SENSE MR. BEYER?
Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
none - the winner figured
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As speed conducive as Churchill was the last few days--over an inch of rain Fri. night, and however many track/stakes records broken?-- I have to believe gauging the true speed of the track was very subjective. I was thinking either the Arkansas Derby fig is too high, or this Derby fig is a little too low. I know, I know--people are probable thinking Bode "bounced" but I'm not buying that. He ran his freaking eyeballs out! Like I said in my last post, if Bode lasted for the win, there is not way in hell he was getting a Beyer right around a 100--just sayin'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Question, take I'll have another out of the finish and Bodemeister outlasts fast-finishing Dullahm by the same distance, same fractions, same final time, does Bode get a 99 Beyer?
Brian Book More than 1 year ago
cant wait to see andys next column and what he says about i'll have anothers victory
Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
preakness scenario - bode will be bet down to even money or less - everyone figuring a slower pace and a sixteenth shorter - if hansen runs and is 100% ( which he obviously wasn't in the derby ) he will put extreme pressure on bode - also ill have another keeps improving and will be much closer to the pace - don't forget bode had 6 or 7 lengths on him going to the 1st turn - most importantly pimlico generally has a rail bias so a lot depends on post position draw - all things being equal i think ill have another will be a better bet than bode ( not saying he will win ).
Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
andy made the false assumption that i'll have another couldn't rate from off the pace - i don't know why.
BrassMonkyBalls More than 1 year ago
Look folks.....its no secret Beyer is the kiss of death for a Derby pick. no owner or trainer wants to hear who his pick is....it dooms them to defeat. But leave Andy alone. His figs are legit. How he himself uses them is just handicapping. When he mentioned DNB I knew he was doomed but played him anyhow. DNB however has no excuses. I watched the race a couple times and he maybe had the cleanest trip of anyone. Just not enough horse. I won't be afraid to play him back just because not everyone runs his race in the Derby. As for Bode...man how many horses can lay down those fractions, spurt clear at the top of the lane and almost hold on? He's a nice one. Although I think it speaks volumes of the group overall. They stumbled home in what 27? and change? Bode had an excuse...he should have been caught by more than one. As for Beyer...he's done tremendous work educating the masses and has solid speed figs. But thats just a tool and has nothing to do with handicapping. I'm pretty sure Andy does just fine overall in this game! Give me one pro who gave to I'll have another?
Rick Berend More than 1 year ago
Brad Free
Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
well - i can't say that i picked ill have another to win because i thought it was a 3 horse race between ill have another , dullahan , and alpha. 2 of 3 aint bad. was shocked when bode stayed on as long as he did.
Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
said it many many times - you can' t wire the derby - when i saw the fractions i said stick a fork in him he's done - but like the eveready bunny he kept going and going and going and cost me my exacta. a fabulous performance by bode and very gritty one by the winner. hats off to guitierrez for a flawless ride.
Jim Trebby More than 1 year ago
Sorry for the typo. Does Beyer EVER pick a correct Debry winner?
Jim Trebby More than 1 year ago
Does Beyer EVER pick a Berby Winner?