Arkansas Derby Winner Bodemeister Leads Strong Contingent of Oaklawn Runners at Pimlico | Sports & Recreation
Oaklawn is likely to have as many of three rooting interest in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) led by Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister, second in the Kentucky Derby after setting all the pace. He is expected to be joined in the field by Rebel Stakes runner-up Optimizer, 11th in the Kentucky Derby and Arkansas Derby fourth-place finisher Cozzetti. One day earlier, Fantasy Stakes winner Mambo Kimbo and Oaklawn Handicap look to further their winning ways in the Black Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) and Pimlico Special (G2), respectively.
Below is a progress report on each runner from the Maryland Jockey Club Media Office.
BODEMEISTER – Zayat Stables LLC and Michel and Tiffany Moreno’s Bodemeister galloped 1 ½ miles after the morning renovation break over a fast track Tuesday at Churchill Downs under exercise rider George Alvarez.
Trainer Bob Baffert said that the Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up would train in the morning before leaving the grounds for a flight to Baltimore. Baffert also is leaving tomorrow morning and will be in Baltimore in time for the post-position draw for the Preakness.
The post-position draw will take place at Pimlico at 6 p.m. Eastern and will be televised live by HRTV.
The Kentucky Derby was only the fifth start for Bodemeister, who did not make his racing debut until Jan. 16. After breaking his maiden in his second start, Bodemeister finished second behind likely Preakness rival Creative Cause in the San Felipe (G2) and then took the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his fourth start.
“Indian Charlie and Congaree were similar to Bodemeister in their careers, but they were bigger horses,” Baffert said.
“Indian Charlie broke his maiden in his first start as a 2-year-old but chipped an ankle. He won two allowance races when he came back and then won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his fourth start. Congaree had a knee injury as a 2-year-old. He came back and won a maiden and an allowance and then won the Wood Memorial (G2) in his fourth start.”
Both colts ran third in the Kentucky Derby and while it was the final race of Indian Charlie’s career, Congaree went on to run third in the Preakness. Congaree ended his career with 10 graded stakes victories, five coming in Grade 1s, and earned more than $3.2 million.
A more recent parallel to Bodemeister is 2007 Preakness winner Curlin, who also ran impressively at Oaklawn.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Curlin broke his maiden at first asking on Feb. 3 and then won the Rebel (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G2) before running third in the Kentucky Derby. Curlin finished his career with seven Grade 1 victories, more than $10 million in earnings and two Horse of the Year titles.
Bodemeister, who will be ridden by Mike Smith, is one of four horses in the barn that will be headed to Pimlico on Wednesday.
Also going to Old Hilltop are Peachtree Stable’s Fantasy Stakes winner Mamma Kimbo, the 7-5 morning-line favorite for the 88th running of the $300,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on Friday; Zayat Stables LLC’s Paynter, who is scheduled to run Saturday on the Preakness Day undercard; and Jill Baffert’s Awesomemundo for Saturday’s $100,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.
COZZETTI – The Albaugh Family Stables LLC’s Cozzetti, who worked a bullet five furlongs in :58.80 over a track labeled as muddy Monday, walked the shedrow at trainer Dale Romans’ barn Tuesday morning.
Fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in his most recent start, Cozzetti will be ridden in the Preakness by Jose Lezcano.
Cozzetti is scheduled to fly to Baltimore on Wednesday and Romans said that is the only horse from the barn that he is taking to run at Pimlico on Saturday.
Last year, Romans swept the Dixie Stakes (G2)-Preakness double with Paddy O’Prado and Shackleford.
OPTIMIZER – Bluegrass Hall LLC’s Optimizer, 11th in the Kentucky Derby, left Churchill Downs shortly after 4 o’clock Tuesday morning for a van ride to Pimlico for Saturday’s Preakness.
Trained by five-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lukas, Optimizer had worked a half-mile in :49.80 over a sloppy track in Louisville on Monday morning.
Corey Nakatani has the Preakness mount.
Lukas accompanied Optimizer on the van along with four other horses for the weekend. The four were comprised of Colonial Empress, who is entered in Friday’s Miss Preakness, Bayakoa Stakes winner Absinthe Minded for Saturday’s Allaire DuPont Distaff (G3), Hamazing Destiny for the Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) and Skyring.
Oaklawn Star Alternation Among Favorites for Friday’s Pimlico Special
Heading the Pimlico Special lineup is Pin Oak Stable’s Alternation, who brought a three-race winning streak into Maryland when he arrived last Friday.
Alternation has the most impressive recent credentials, including his latest victory in the Oaklawn Handicap on April 14 when he defeated three of the rivals he will face in the Special, Yawanna Twist (third), Hymn Book (fourth) and Nehro (sixth). That increased the lifetime earnings of the grandson of Forty Niner and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew to more than $720,000.
"This looked like a good next step for him," said Alternation's trainer Donnie Von Hemel. "We liked the distance (1 3/16 miles) and the type of race it is. It's a race with a lot of tradition and history and it will set him up nicely for the Stephen Foster."
Von Hemel said the horse was brought to Maryland early because "when you're coming from as far away as we were, you can't crowd the race. There was plenty of time to get him a nice trip and do a little schooling here."
In a well-balanced race, Mission Impazible from the powerful Todd Pletcher barn is listed as the 7-to-2 overnight favorite with Hymn Book right behind at 4-to-1 and Alternation at 9-to-2.
Hymn Book "had a little bit of an off day" in his most recent outing, according to trainer Shug McGaughey. "But he's seen a lot of these horses and he's in there with them. I like this spot because it's around two turns and he's doing good. Of course, he likes about anything."
Yawanna Twist (12-to-1) is back in Maryland where he won the General George (G2) at Laurel Park in February, beating among others Toby’s Corner. The son of Yonaguska finished fourth in the 2010 Preakness Stakes (G1), while in the Rick Dutrow barn.
Nehro (8-to-1) is pushing toward $1 million in earnings after a solid performance in the 2011 Triple Crown series, including a runner-up to Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby. Nehro is trained by Oaklawn’s leading trainer Steve Asmussen, who prepared Student Council for a victory in the last Pimlico Special four years ago.
The Pimlico Special field, from the rail out: Toby’s Corner (trainer Graham Motion, jockey Eddie Castro, 118 pounds, 6-1); Endorsement (trainer Eoin Harty, jockey Martin Garcia, 124 pounds, 8-1); Cease (trainer Albert Stall Jr., jockey Rosie Napravnik, 124 pounds, 15-1); Hymn Book (trainer Shug McGaughey, jockey John Velazquez, 124 pounds, 9-2); Cherokee Artist (trainer Jerry Robb, jockey Victor Santiago, 118 pounds, 20-1); Nehro (trainer Steve Asmussen, jockey Corey Nakatani, 118 pounds, 8-1); Mission Impazible (trainer Todd Pletcher, jockey Javier Castellano, 118 pounds, 7-2); Yawanna Twist (trainer John Parisella, jockey Mike Luzzi, 118 pounds, 12-1); Alternation (trainer Donnie Von Hemel, jockey Luis Quinonez, 124 pounds, 4-1); Eighttofasttocatch (trainer Tim Keefe, jockey Sheldon Russell, 124 pounds, 15-1).