By Rich Nilsen.
(Reprinted with permission from our friends at A Game of Skill. Read more Derby profiles on their site)
This son of Empire Maker may have peaked in the G1 Arkansas Derby, when he overcame a very tough outside post that afternoon to crush the field by 9 1/2 widening lengths. He got the final 1/8th of a mile in a shade under 12 seconds, which is simply phenomenal and explains why he won by so far. In the process Bodemeister earned a very strong 105 BRIS Speed Rating and an even bigger 108 Beyer speed figure.
I was on Bodemeister when he broke his maiden in his second career start, Feb. 11 at Santa Anita. That day it was a similar performance, as the young colt dictated the pace and then drew away to 9 1/4 length win in fast time. Off that impressive maiden win, he was stepped up to the G2 San Felipe by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and the result was a strong 2nd place finish to Creative Cause, the top horse in California.
This handicapper really likes Bodemeister, but I am also a value player and there are several problems with this talented horse when it comes to Kentucky Derby 138. Here are the six reasons that I will not be keying my bets around Bode:
1) Bodemeister will be the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, despite what other people think. He is coming off a monster win and a huge Beyer figure. Union Rags is coming off a disappointing 3rd. Factor in Bob Baffert, and there is no doubt in my mind who goes off favorite. It’s hard to bet on an underlay in any Kentucky Derby, but especially so this year when the field appears to be very strong.
2) No Kentucky Derby winner since Apollo in 1882 has been unraced as a two year old. That’s 1882 not 1982. Different trends have been falling by the wayside in recent years, but this is the negative trend of all negative trends. The last big-name victim of this trend was eventual Horse of the Year Curlin.
3) Check out this post-race quote from the Arkansas Derby. “The key to this horse is keeping him quiet in the post parade,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He got really hot in his last race [San Felipe]. It’s exciting to see a young horse develop like this.” Welcome to the Kentucky Derby Day paddock, Bode.
4) The runner-up, Secret Circle, from Oaklawn can’t run a lick past 8.5 furlongs, and the rest of the field was pretty lackluster. Bottom line: he didn’t beat much.
5) He has bounce written all over him. Oftentimes horses bounce because they don’t get the same situation in their next start. See reason #6.
6) This may be the most scary reason for those planning on supporting Bodemeister. He owns two lifetime wins and in both races he did not pass a horse. Bode has never passed a horse en route to winning a race. I’m not saying he isn’t capable of doing that but he is unproven rating. There is a ton of pace in this year’s Kentucky Derby and that potentially hurts Bode big time.
Value players on the first Saturday in May will consider tossing him due to the reasons discussed above. Best of luck!
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