Bodemeister came up short when finishing second in the Kentucky Derby, but Saturday's Preakness Stakes shapes up differently with the talented colt as the probable lone speed.
He enjoyed no such luxury at Churchill Downs, whipping through splits of :22 1/5, :45 1/5 and 1:09 4/5 while being chased by the ultra-quick Trinniberg, but none of his 10 rivals Saturday appear capable of applying serious pressure. His tactical advantage is such that Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another, who enjoyed the perfect trip when rating off the pace two weeks ago, may be forced to take up the early chase in order to keep Bodemeister company. But it's difficult to imagine any rival sticking with the pacesetter -- Bodemeister owns too much natural speed and will look to accelerate away turning for home.
Bodemeister captured the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby two starts back by a widening 9 1/2-length margin under a similar pace scenario and is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has captured the Preakness a whopping five times with horses exiting the Kentucky Derby. His runners tend to run right back to, or even improve upon, their Derby form.
And the quality of competition can be questioned -- Bodemeister definitely won't be facing a deep roster of proven foes Saturday. He appears capable of dominating the Preakness on the front end.
I'll Have Another should be in position to capitalize if the front runner falters, but may lack the same finishing kick from the Kentucky Derby if forced to get involved early. I would like to beat him underneath in the exacta, but the possibility remains that he will be too good for all but Bodemeister. The Doug O'Neill colt is three for three this year, producing a pair of 109 BRIS Late Pace ratings in his two stakes wins prior to the Kentucky Derby.
Went the Day Well has the potential to get involved if he continues to move forward off an encouraging fourth in the Kentucky Derby. He was compromised at the start, dropping farther back than expected in the congested field, but finished full of gusto to be beaten only 2 1/2 lengths and galloped out past the top three after the wire. His BRIS numbers are strong and I will include the promising colt in the exacta.
Creative Cause is the 6-1 co-third choice on the morning line following a wide fifth at Churchill Downs, but the Grade 1-winning colt is a play against for me. He was dogged by physical concerns the week before the Derby and trainer Mike Harrington elected to ship him back and forth to California afterward instead of remaining in Kentucky with other Preakness prospects. Creative Cause may be heading in the wrong direction presently.
Daddy Nose Best was training forwardly for the Derby and is eligible to improve upon a disappointing 10th, but the late runner doesn't possess a favorable running style and may leave himself with too much to do in the stretch.
Optimizer looks better-suited for turf and would be a huge surprise here. The new shooters in the Preakness – Cozzetti, Pretension, Teeth of the Dog, Tiger Walk and Zetterholm – probably aren't fast enough to make a significant impact.
I will be playing with house money in the final two Triple Crown races after producing a $460.80 net profit (gross winnings of $560.80) from a $100 Kentucky Derby bankroll. The Preakness looks chalky, with the potential for a much more lucrative payout three weeks later in the Belmont Stakes.
Bodemeister is a win bet and I will key him in two straight exactas.
$40 win 7 (Bodemeister)
$30 exactas: 7 over 5,9 (Went the Day Well and I'll Have Another)
Enjoy the Preakness!