Updated on 04/29/2012 2:24PM

Kentucky Derby workouts: Bodemeister sizzles over hard, fast track

Barbara D. Livingston
Bodemeister, who will be one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby, had a strong five-furlong workout over a muddy track at Churchill Downs on Sunday.

Churchill Downs:  Cloudy  Temp. 53  Track Muddy

LOUISVILLE , Ky. -   On Saturday, Union Rags set an extremely high standard for Kentucky Derby workouts. Sunday morning, Bodemeister did his best to emulate if not exceed that standard in his second and final Derby work since arriving in Louisville less than two weeks ago. 

A storm of historic proportion passed through the local area on Saturday evening, dropping golf ball-sized hail and an enormous amount of rain at Churchill Downs. As a result, the racetrack was rated muddy throughout the course of training here Sunday. However, after being sealed and packed tight, the strip was hard and fast by the time Bodemeister came out to work immediately after the renovation break.

Work of the day

Bodemeister  (five  furlongs in 59.48 seconds):  Working for the second time in five days, the Arkansas Derby winner broke off at the five-furlong pole, four lengths behind Oaks candidate Jemima’s Pearl. Bodemeister cruised through an easy opening quarter in 24.73 and drew even with his mate after covering three furlongs in 36.30. The pair floated about four paths off the rail entering the stretch, and then Bodemeister gradually asserted his superiority, completing his final quarter in a sparkling  23.09 while hitting the wire about a neck the best while under little to no urging. The gallop out was even better, as Bodemeister quickly left the filly behind (something he did not do when the same pair worked in company on Tuesday), completing six furlongs in 1:12.13 and seven-eighths in 1:25.57 before pulling up a mile in  a sparkling 1:40.26.

Trainer Bob Baffert said afterwards that unlike the previous work, when he instructed jockey Martin Garcia to shut Bodemeister down early in the gallop out, he gave his rider orders to “go on with him” on Sunday. And go on he did.

Bodemeister is certainly not the prettiest mover at a jog or when he gallops, but the faster he goes, the better he looks and the more effortlessly he seems to stride out.  Derby works don’t get much better than this one, with the key question whether it all might prove to be a little too much for a lightly raced colt coming off the race of his life earlier this month.

Other workouts

Optimizer  (five furlongs in 1:00.47): Although not as visually impressive as Bodemeister, Optimizer looked good on Sunday, posting splits of 24.08 and  35.50 before galloping out in 1:14.90 while holding a straight course and changing leads on cue. Not a bad run from a horse without the benefit of a target or some company to keep him focused. Unfortunately, he still needs some help, one more defection, to draw into the Derby field.

The rest of the non-Baffert California contingent, Rousing Sermon, Creative  Cause, and I’ll Have Another were on the track for the first time Sunday less than 24 hours after their arrival in Louisville.

A shoeing issue delayed Creative Cause’s visit to the track by approximately 45 minutes, forcing him to train with the general population at 9:15 a.m.  Creative Cause jogged the wrong way alongside a pony, who hip checked him rather solidly when spooking from something in the grandstand in the vicinity of the eighth pole. Apparently none the worse for wear, Creative Cause proceeded to change directions and gallop a smooth-looking  1 1/4 miles during which he appeared to be enjoying himself taking in the new surroundings.

Creative Cause is scheduled to work here either Monday or Tuesday.

As customary, stablemates Sabercat and Daddy Nose Best were out for routine gallops early Sunday. Daddy Nose Best looked good again, with both horses slated to work on Monday.

Other Derby starters to train after the renovation break included Trinniberg  and Mark Valeski, both of whom may also work Monday, as could Baffert’s  horse Liaison.

While Bodemeister turned in the most impressive work of the day, Oaks contender Believe You Can  had the fastest. Working by herself, the Fair Ground Oaks winner sizzled five furlongs in 57.90 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.30 for trainer Larry Jones while never really extended at any point.  This was the second big work in six days from Believe You Can and another indication she seems to be coming into the Oaks in peak form.