Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bodemeister's Derby Outlook

January 16th, race 7 at Santa Anita: maiden special weight limited to 3 year olds. 

Distance: 5 and a half furlongs

Jockey: R. Bejarano

Pace: 21.41, 44.17, 56.14, 1:02.39

Post Position: 10/10

Lots to like in this, seemingly meaningless, debut. First, Bodemeister breaks on top. While I’m no expert, the ability to break from the gate cleanly, especially for a speed horse, seems paramount to success. Second, he gained experience relaxing off the early leader. With Trinniberg in the field, it’s unlikely he’ll make the early lead in the Derby. And who knows, he may even have to contend with Hansen’s rainbow colored tail in his nostrils while rounding the first turn, thus, this experience is crucial. 

His greenness is a concern, but let’s look at it with Bob Baffert colored glasses. He was extremely green in the stretch, while chasing a very talented speed horse in American Act, who had essentially been loose on the lead, and still only lost by two freaking lengths. Did I mention this was at 5 ½ furlongs, and he’s better suited around two turns? 

February 11th, race 3 at Santa Anita: maiden special limited to 3 year olds 

Distance: 8 furlongs (around two turns)

Jockey: R. Bejarano

Pace: 23.09, 46.95, 1:10.72, 1:22.50, 1:34.55 

Post Position: 8/8

Once Bodemeister is able to clear the field on the first turn after breaking from the far outside yet again, this one was over. Not to criticize his effort, but a talent like Bodemeister, while racing loose on the lead against an overmatched field of maidens, is supposed to win by open lengths. 

What I fancied most about this race, was Bodemeister’s professionalism. In stark contrast from his debut, Bodemeister switched leads on cue at the top of the stretch, and proceeded to draw away, racing straight as can be.
March 10th, race 9 at Santa Anita: The Grade Two San Felipe Stakes limited to 3 year olds

Distance: 8 and a half furlongs

Jockey: R. Bejarano
Pace: 22.95, 46.98, 1:11.23, 1:35.50, 1:41.84

Post Position: 2/10

Bodemeister’s first test regarding sitting off the lead around two turns, which gave the more insight into his Derby chances than any other of his starts.

Although the chart says that he “pulled early” Bodemeister appeared to race just off of pacesetter American Act’s flank just fine.

The stretch run here got a bit wild, and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it. As soon as Bodemeister deposed of American Act, he had Creative Cause to deal with on the outside. Once Creative Cause took over, he weaved out towards the outer rail. While I can’t be sure, it looks as it Bejarano went to left hand whip in order to veer Bodemeister out into the middle of the stretch so he’d see Creative Cause. When Bodemeister noticed Creative Cause, he responded gamely.

Although this effort was nothing to be ashamed of, Creative Cause had some massive issues with staying engaged in the stretch, and yet still won. Creative Cause also galloped out much stronger than Bodemeister. 

Creative Cause (highlighted in green) galloping out much better than Bodemeister (highlighted in blue).

This race now serves as the blueprint to beating Bodemeister.

With this effort we can determine that Bodemeister is ‘rate-able’ (although he’s probably better when on the lead) and has a Michael Jordan-like competitive spirit. 

April 14th, race 11 at Oaklawn Park: The Grade One Arkansas Derby limited to 3 year olds

Distance: 9 furlongs

Jockey: M. Smith

Pace: 23.02, 46.55, 1:11.36, 1:36.74, 1:48.71

Post Position: 11/11

Must like the maiden win, this race was over once Bodemeister cleared Stat on the first turn. Loose on the lead setting reasonable fractions, Bodemeister is going crush any 3 year old field around two turns.

Aside from stamping him the Derby favorite, and demonstrating his ability to relax on the backstretch (furlongs 4-6 went in 24.81) this blowout win was pretty meaningless, since barring any unforeseen circumstances he won’t be on the lead in the Derby.

Pros: Bodemeister has shown in just four career starts that he’s the most talented runner in this year’s Derby. He’s got that coveted high cruising speed that usually eliminates any traffic issues. He doesn’t need the lead. He breaks from the gate without issue. He’s bred to get the distance. He’s training exceptionally well. And I know his low number of career starts is a burden, but it’s encouraging to know that he’s still got boatloads of improvement ahead of him.

Cons: Hasn’t shown much of a propensity to stalk and pounce, which he’ll have to accomplish on Saturday.  With Trinniberg and Hansen, each with a bevy of early speed, the pace may very well be quite brisk. Bodemeister doesn’t seem versatile enough to lay back in 5th or 6th if such a scenario were to occur, which could make him a PoP (Prisoner of pace). And not only does Bodemeister have to avoid a hot pace, he cannot be a factor inducing one. In each of his last two starts, he’s been a part of a very hot early fast pace. So not only does Bode have to avoid an eventful pace, he can’t instigate one.

Okay, enough handicapping pace, which is often a futile effort. There’s one constant in each of Bodemeister’s career starts, and it’s his talent. If Bodemeister wins the Derby, nobody ought to be surprised, since much like his father Empire Maker, he’s got worlds of nature ability.

Should things go to plan, once Trinniberg packs it in, it’s quite conceivable that Bodemeister will inherit the lead at the top of the stretch. Whether he has the foundation to hold off the challengers is an unknown, but should be master the art of rating, things bode well for Bodemeister.

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