LOUISVILLE — After his heart attack in Dubai last month, trainer Bob Baffert has tried to reduce the amount of stress in his world.
Zayat Stable's Bodemeister did his part to aid his conditioner's recovery when he drilled 5 furlongs in 1:00.80 at Churchill Downs on Tuesday in advance of his expected start in the Kentucky Derby on May 5.
In his first move since taking the Grade I Arkansas Derby in spectacular fashion on April 14, the son of Empire Maker worked in company with Oaks hopeful Jemima's Pearl, breaking off about four lengths behind and clocking splits of :12.80, :25, 36.80, 48.80 before finishing up on even terms.
Though lightly raced with just four starts to his credit, Bodemeister is expected to be among the favorites for the Derby after his 91/2-length romp at Oaklawn.
"I feel relieved. Bode worked really well," said Baffert, who was in attendance for the move. "He looked like he skipped right over the track and you never know until you work them over how they're going to handle it.
"He's got a ways to go but what I saw today was very encouraging. He moves over the ground really easy."
Baffert also confirmed Tuesday that Grade I winner Liaison would be in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field. Owned by Arnold Zetcher, Liaison won the Grade I CashCall Futurity last December but has been off the board in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis, Grade II San Felipe Stakes, and Grade I Santa Anita Derby this year.
"I'm going to run him. I love the way he went over this track," Baffert said. "What a difference. Santa Anita, he just hated that place. He worked well the other day at Hollywood Park and today he went around there and looked like a different horse. He still has a mountain to climb but we're going to work him here and give him a chance.
"At the end of December, he looked like he would be one of the Derby favorites. But he's just had rough outs this year."
Baffert said Martin Garcia would have the mount on Liaison for the Derby.
Creative Cause works
Creative Cause continued his advancement toward the Derby on Tuesday, working 5 furlongs in 1:00.20 at Hollywood Park.
The breeze was the second for the son of Giant's Causeway since his runner-up effort behind I'll Have Another in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 7. Trained by Mike Harrington,
Creative Cause finished third in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 19 and captured the Grade II San Felipe on March 10 prior to the Santa Anita Derby.