Kentucky Derby

Notes from the Backstretch: Bodemeister's last work pleases Baffert

Liason, with Martin Garcia up, worked 5 furlongs Sunday. Photo by Jonathan Palmer
Liason, with Martin Garcia up, worked 5 furlongs Sunday. Photo by Jonathan Palmer Herald-Leader

LOUISVILLE — According to trainer Bob Baffert, Bodemeister is not the kind of horse who flashes his ability gratuitously. If you want to see the best the son of Empire Maker has to offer, you better be prepared to ask for it.

"When he's just galloping, he's sort of lazy," Baffert said. "That's what took me so long to get him to the races is we thought maybe he needs more time. But finally we said 'We're going to run him' and then, boom."

The Arkansas Derby answered the bell when called upon Sunday, working 5 furlongs in :59.60 with Kentucky Oaks hopeful Jemima's Pearl at Churchill Downs in his last major move before Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Baffert had contemplated pushing the move back to Monday in the aftermath of severe thunderstorms that drenched Louisville on Saturday night. The muddy surface appeared to be little concern to Bodemeister though as the bay colt broke off about four lengths behind his stablemate but quickly got on even terms and finished about a neck in front.

"I'm glad I got the work in," Baffert said. "I was a little worried last night with the rains and all the stuff how the track was going to be but it turns out the track was in perfect shape today. He got a hold of it, it was nice and firm."

Bodemeister reeled off splits of :36.40, and :48 and galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:12.20.

"He was doing that within himself, he's the kind of horse who will go slower or faster, whatever you want to do." Baffert said.

El Padrino worksat Palm Meadows

Unable to work on Saturday because of weather at Palm Meadows Training Center, Risen Star Stakes winner El Padrino was clocked in :53.34 for his 4-furlong move Sunday under the watch of trainer Todd Pletcher.

El Padrino, who finished fourth in the Florida Derby, worked in company with stablemate Windsurfer over the muddy surface. Both he and stablemate Gemologist, who also worked a half mile Sunday, are slated to ship to Churchill Downs on Tuesday.

"He's an easy horse to train. He's a laid back kind of guy and just does whatever his workmate does," Pletcher said of El Padrino. "He's had a good five weeks since the Florida Derby."

I'll Have Another takes to Churchill surface

In his first visit over the Churchill Downs track since arriving from California Saturday, I'll Have Another had several onlookers inquiring just who the impressive chestnut streak was going by them Sunday morning.

The winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby had the look of a horse aching to do more when he galloped over the muddy one-mile oval under exercise rider Jonny Garcia.

"This was a normal strong gallop for him," trainer Doug O'Neill said with a smile. "He went across the track very sharply. I wouldn't trade places with anybody the way he's training."

I'll Have Another drew attention of a different kind earlier in the week when the son of Flower Alley was placed on the vet's list in California after undergoing shockwave therapy treatment one day after working 6 furlongs at Hollywood Park on April 19.

The treatment is legal but horses are not allowed to race in California for 10 days afterwards, necessitating the colt's presence on the list.

"It's great on sore backs and it's a legal therapy that we did two weeks out," O'Neill explained Sunday. "It's something that wasn't needed but (owner) Paul Reddam gave the green light to it. He had just a little tightness in his lumbar area two works ago and that's when we did the therapy. Knock on wood, it's been good ever since.

"If there was no such therapy like that, he'd be fine but since it's there, we took advantage of it."

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