Horse racing notes: Baffert duo settle at Churchill

Bodemeister and jockey Mike Smith ran down the stretch on the way to winning the $1 million Arkansas Derby.
Bodemeister and jockey Mike Smith ran down the stretch on the way to winning the $1 million Arkansas Derby. AP

The top two finishers in Saturday's Grade I Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park arrived at Churchill Downs in good order Monday afternoon ahead of the Kentucky Derby on May 5.

Bodemeister, the 9½ -length winner of the Arkansas Derby in his fourth career start, spent his first morning at Churchill Downs walking the shedrow of Barn 33. He's the son of Empire Maker.

"Bodemeister is sharp," assistant trainer Peter Hutton said. "He's loaded with energy and has been bucking and kicking in his stall. He's in great shape."

Bodemeister, named after trainer Bob Baffert's son Bode, will attempt to become the first Kentucky Derby winner to have not raced as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882. He was second in his career debut at Santa Anita in January prior to a 9¼-length romp in a 1-mile maiden special weight at the same track.

In his stakes debut, Bodemeister finished second behind another top Kentucky Derby contender, Creative Cause, in the Grade II San Felipe.

Secret Circle, second behind his stablemate in the Arkansas Derby, also walked the shedrow Tuesday morning. Winner of the inaugural running of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, Secret Circle captured the Grade III Southwest and Grade II Rebel at Oaklawn Park prior to his runner-up effort in the Arkansas Derby.

"Both colts are doing very well," Hutton said. "There's a chance that they will walk one more day, but more than likely they will both jog (Wednesday)."

Two of Baffert's horses that were on the track Tuesday were Mamma Kimbo, who will be pointed to the Grade I Kentucky Oaks after her victory in the Grade II Fantasy at Oaklawn Park, and Jemima's Pearl, who was third behind her stablemate in the Fantasy.

"The fillies are both doing really well," Hutton said. "Everything is good."

Lexington may draw crowd

Saturday's 31st running of the Grade III, $200,000 Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland could affect which horses are eligible to run in the Kentucky Derby.

Of those whose connections are considering the Derby, the 20-horse cutoff appears to end with Reveron at $220,000 in graded-stakes earnings.

Not all of those horses are locked into the Derby, which bring the next spots in the rankings into play. Isn't He Clever ($191,333) and Optimizer ($184,708) are 21st and 22nd, respectively, and the Coolmore Lexington will give $120,000 to the winner and $40,000 to the runner-up.

According to Keeneland stakes coordinator Scott Jones, among the likely starters for the Coolmore Lexington are Grade III Southwest winner Castaway ($162,000 in graded earnings), Grade III Illinois Derby runner-up Morgan's Guerrilla ($100,000), Grade II Fountain of Youth runner-up News Pending ($80,000) and Grade II Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Golden Ticket ($70,000).

Others considered as probable for the 11⁄16-mile race on the main track are All Squared Away, Gold Megillah, Hammers Terror, Holiday Promise, Johannesbourbon and Summer Front. Also possible for the Coolmore Lexington are Arm Force and Macho Bull.


■ Expected to arrive at Churchill Downs from Keene-land on Tuesday is the Larry Jones-trained trio of Kentucky Derby hopeful Mark Valeski, Kentucky Oaks hopeful Believe You Can and reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, who is being pointed to the Grade II, $300,000-added La Troienne on the Kentucky Oaks undercard on May 4.

■ Grade I Blue Grass Stakes winner Dullahan jogged a mile around the Churchill Downs oval on Tuesday morning. He is expected to breeze on April 28.