The Showdown Is On

Bodemeister Is Headed to the Preakness Stakes

The decision has been made; our Kentucky Derby runner-up is headed to Baltimore on Wednesday for a date with the horse that denied him the roses. In the opinion of Trainer Bob Baffert and Owner Ahmed Zayat Bodemeister has returned from the Kentucky Derby better than expected and looks fantastic. Following his gallop at Churchill Downs this morning is when Baffert made it official so it’s time to get ready for Bodemeister to make a 2nd run at getting the best of the Kentucky Derby winner.

The assumption has been that Bodemeister would be back for the Preakness Stakes but nothing is ever certain until the green light is given. This is especially true when a horse is coming off of back to back races where speed was the name of his game. In attempt to steal the race from the front of the pack, Bodemeister proceeded to torch the track at Churchill Downs behind a sweltering pace. Although it was a magnificent effort he wasn’t able to bring it home without behind gobbled up in the final 100 yards. 

So it is onward and upward to Pimlico and leading the way is Bodemeister because he seems to have made the decision rather easy for his connections. Sometimes only a championship caliber horse can return this quickly, making Saturday a grand opportunity to prove just how talented he really is. He has shown that he’s got the tools to pull it off but there’s one pressing matter that needs to be overcome and his name is I’ll Have Another.

This morning was another strong gallop by the Kentucky Derby winner. It was also an additional day at Pimlico that allowed his connections and trainer Doug O’Neill to hang on to their confidence going in and possibly extend it just a tad. “He’s showing great energy,” O’Neill said before later adding “He had a good little leg stretch and a good cool down. He seems ready to go.” So while Bode is ready for round 2, it appears that I’ll Have Another is equipped for the challenge.

Of course it isn’t uncommon for trainers to be so high on their Preakness starters on the Monday of Preakness week. If any of the trainers in the field were to be beaming with poise it would definitely be these two. They didn’t finish 1-2 in the Kentucky Derby without reason so it is great news that both feel good and are ready to meet again.

The Kentucky Derby proved that these two have one enormous difference – distance. I’ll Have Another has got the pedigree to carry the distance of the Belmont Stakes while Bodemeister doesn’t appear to want anything to do with a race that long. For Bodemeister the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 ¼ mile is about all that he does want but if asked he’d probably tell you that the Preakness Stakes distance of 1 3/16 is perfect. To boot, he’s been a beyer speed demon this year notching 3 figures of 100+ before falling to a modest 99 in the Kentucky Derby.

While the distance in the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown favors the Kentucky Derby runner-up there is still one thing that many will be considering if they choose to bet against him; he’s racing again. The Preakness Stakes will be Bodemeister’s 3rd Grade 1 Stakes in only 35 days and that is a hefty test. To his advantage however, there is a recent horse named Curlin who was able to pull it off in 2007. (Also ran in the Ark. Derby, KyDerby and Preakness). In fact, Curlin didn’t race at age 2 either. So maybe the quick turnaround is nothing insurmountable for the late bloomers of the Triple Crown but neither is a horse that refuses to lose.

We saw I’ll Have Another’s grit and determination down the stretch in the Santa Anita Derby and we saw his drive again in the Kentucky Derby. Regardless of whether or not this race meets his distance pedigree, preference or potential, I’ll Have Another has had a way of making the winners circle the only place he likes to be.

The news today that our Kentucky Derby winner and runner-up will face off again is a wonderful start to Preakness Week. There will be plenty of time to look at the field that will be racing to steal the attention but for now these two California Colts have earned the spotlight. The Showdown is On and it’s setting up to be a brilliant rematch.

Written by: Little Brink


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