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Going to Saratoga Springs this weekend

Yay Ponyland! My documentary crew and I will be filming at some special places in Saratoga to show off some special horses. I’ll let you guys wonder about which ones. I even bought a book to help my crew out:

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I didn’t have much time this week to do a full-out handicap, but you guys can assume that I think very highly of Bayern and hope he wins the Arkansas Derby (I) tomorrow. Tapiture and Strong Mandate follow that pick in order.

For the Blue Grass, it gets harder in a way. I do not think Bobby’s Kitten will handle the poly as well as he does turf (*thinks about Stephanie’s Kitten in the Ashland*)… I thought very very highly of him last year and still do, but very forwardly-placed horses like him do not fare well at Keeneland. He is definitely one to bet against. I’ve always liked Casiguapo, but will be most keen on Coastline and Dance With Fate to work their magic, the latter of which has the best shot to do well in the Derby should he win. Third choice is probably Medal Count, who turns back after a week break to try to win again on Keeneland’s main (*thinks about Brilliant Speed some years ago*).

I’m just super duper creative today and wanted to DOODLE my Arkansas Derby (I) pick today, seeing as I picked Bodemeister last year and Archarcharch the year before. This colty is listening to some off-screen instructions on how to make an Oxbutt out of Oxbow. (Fantastic original art by me)

I’m just super duper creative today and wanted to DOODLE my Arkansas Derby (I) pick today, seeing as I picked Bodemeister last year and Archarcharch the year before. This colty is listening to some off-screen instructions on how to make an Oxbutt out of Oxbow. (Fantastic original art by me)

The Unforgettable Races of 2012: #20-11

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The sport of kings played spectator to even more thrills and surprises in 2012, with favorites and unexpected surprises all playing their roles and making the crowd roar from California to Dubai. Of course, there’s no one right answer in determining which performance was best or which horse was most compelling in their victories. It was difficult sifting through so many races, and while I’m compelled to include more, I’ll keep it to twenty unforgettable races. Because I’m more an expert on North American racing, yes there will be a bias towards American races, so do be wary of what I wound up picking. Let’s get started…

20) Game On Dude gets redemption in Californian (II) blowout - “STRAIGHT AND STRONG!” After a disappointing 12th place performance in the Dubai World Cup (I), “the Dude” shipped back home to Santa Anita to go wire-to-wire in the 9-furlong Californian. He toyed with the field from the start, and ran away on the far turn to cement an incredible 8 1/2 length victory. Watch it here

19) Alpha and Golden Ticket dead-heat in Travers (I) - A jumbled race from the betting windows, longshot Golden Ticket refused to yield to encroaching favorite Alpha in the stretch of the three-year-old classic and the two colts hit the wire together for the first time in the race’s long history. Watch it here

18) Ron the Greek catches Wise Dan in unexpected Stephen Foster (I) result - The heavy favorite in a strong field, Wise Dan looked like the winner coming to the line of the 10-furlong Churchill Downs race only to be caught by rail runner Ron the Greek. It was Wise Dan’s lone loss of the year by a short head. Watch it here

17) Fort Larned runs to the nines, upsets Breeders’ Cup Classic (I) - Down but not out, the Ian Wilkes trainee celebrated his jockey’s birthday by wiring the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, deflecting a determined Mucho Macho Man in the stretch to register an upset win. Watch it here

16) Believe You Can leads Rosie Napravnik to first Kentucky Oaks (I) - For the first time since the race started in 1875, a female jockey prevailed aboard the Larry Jones entry with a name all too fitting for making history. The lilies fell to Believe You Can in an upset performance at the Downs. Watch it here

15) Groupie Doll much the best among the best in Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (I) - There was no denying that Groupie Doll was the “lock” of the Breeders’ Cup championships. She broke smooth and slow to creep up on the pacesetters and from there it was repetitive brilliance as the four-year-old filly romped to her fifth win of the year and third G1. Watch it here

14) Bodemeister turns Arkansas Derby (I) into a runaway - He was not the favorite, but by the looks of things he should have been. The rapidly-improving stablemate of Secret Circle took his stablemate head on in the Oaklawn stretch and poured it on from there, outclassing the more experienced colts to register a a nearly 10-length romp to become the Derby favorite. Watch it here

13) Little Mike notches yet another surprise ousting top horses in Breeders’ Cup Turf (I) - The cheap little gelding gave a big performance in yet another world class race, funneling through the inside rail from off-the-pace to upset some of the world’s best grass horses when he appeared to be off his game. Watch it here

12) I’ll Have Another catches Bodemeister once more in Preakness (I) - The Derby winner still had something to prove in the shorter, tighter second leg of the Triple Crown but replicated a similar sort of brilliance as he did in Kentucky. With Bodemeister jetting off to a widening lead in the stretch, I’ll Have Another caught his rival again in the waning moments of the race to stay alive for the Triple Crown. Watch it here

11) Royal Delta squishes top field, shows new front-running dimension in her defense of the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (I) - The toughest race in the championships, returning champion Royal Delta made it look too easy to be real as she set her sights on the lead and held it down to discourage a field full of top G1-winning fillies in another brilliant performance. Watch it here

Stay tuned for races #10-1!

Archarcharch *swoons and falls over*

Archarcharch *swoons and falls over*

Curlin (Photo by Anne M. Eberhardt)

Curlin (Photo by Anne M. Eberhardt)

Yes, I’ll be rooting for Cozzetti come Saturday, even though he failed to hang on to third and win me some money in the Arkansas Derby (I). (Photo by Tom Keyser)

Yes, I’ll be rooting for Cozzetti come Saturday, even though he failed to hang on to third and win me some money in the Arkansas Derby (I). (Photo by Tom Keyser)

Bodemeister

Bodemeister

Derby Dozen #5/12: Bodemeister

Bodemeister

(Empire Maker x Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat)

Trainer: Bob Baffert (Lookin at Lucky, Real Quiet, Silver Charm, War Emblem)

Jockey: Mike Smith (With over 5,000 wins and more than 20 years of experience, Mike Smith has won each of the Triple Crown races once along with a near-record 15 Breeders’ Cup wins among countless other graded events. He’s been a go-to veteran wherever he is stationed, riding top horses such as Holy Bull, Zenyatta, Skip Away, and many more over the years)

Owned by: Zayat Stables

Record: 4-2-2-0

Earnings: $704,800

Summary: One heck of a late bloomer, Bodemeister was brought along slowly to break his maiden at Santa Anita in February, but has since been unstoppable and a surprisingly mature new gun on the Derby scene. His connections are among the most lethal in the Triple Crown series, with trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith winning each of the legs at least once while owner Zayat Stables has come close to a Derby victory a heart-renching three times: 2nd with Nehro in 2011, 2nd with Pioneerof the Nile in 2009, and helmed the favorite Eskendereya in 2010, who did not make it to the gate.

Prep Schedule: Broke his maiden on his second try at Santa Anita in February by more than 9 lengths over a mile on the dirt course. Came back to big hopes in the San Felipe (II), where he ran against top horses for the first time in graded company to finish second by a nose to the highly-favored Creative Cause. He left them all behind in the Arkansas Derby (I), trouncing the field by almost 10 lengths to earn an incredible 108 Beyer— the highest of any three-year-old thus far. He outran older horses in an earlier race that day, the Oaklawn Handicap, by more than a second (equates to more than 5 lengths).

Running Style: Adaptable, off-the-pace

Pros: Mike Smith said Bode made all the right moves in the Arkansas, so no surprise there, he’s got a good head on his shoulders. Smith never asked the horse for his best in that race, which he won by a huge margin while setting a triple-digit Beyer. Awesome connections and brilliant talent makes this horse worthy of the title “Derby favorite.”

Cons: Win streaks were made to be broken, and Bode has yet to have that off day or encounter bad luck as a young horse. While no one going to the gate has run more than Bodemeister this year (4 times), he never ran as a two-year-old which can be predictive of success: the last horse to win the Derby who did not start as a two-year-old was Apollo… in 1882. Can Bode keep improving to topple the curse?

Final Word: I think someone else said it perfectly when saying that while nobody is being scared off by Bodemeister, he certainly is scary. He’s a giant, but a fragile one with only 4 total career starts under his belt. He has the pedigree to win, the connections to win, but will still need much luck and heart to get to the wire first. While I reserve my final praise for Bode’s chances, he has more than a good shot to win but has to do so facing off against more than one good horse in the most challenging race of his life.

I almost didn’t recognize Bodemeister without his blinkers yesterday, and boy was I proud to see him win so impressively. It really didn’t look like he was asked, and once again, I think the Arkansas Derby (I) has produced another horse for me to include in my top 2 or 3 to win the Big One in May. I wish Empire Maker was still in the United States…

I almost didn’t recognize Bodemeister without his blinkers yesterday, and boy was I proud to see him win so impressively. It really didn’t look like he was asked, and once again, I think the Arkansas Derby (I) has produced another horse for me to include in my top 2 or 3 to win the Big One in May. I wish Empire Maker was still in the United States…

YEAH BODEMEISTER!!

Been having a rough day handicapping-wise… so many of my horses were NIPPED at the wire today, making me think I shouldn’t bet on the Derby preps like I told ya’ll I would. Put money on Hansen which cashed, and then some on Bodemeister, which I wished I put more on with that price and that performance! Bring. It. On. Bodemeister and Dullahan both great winners with a huge chance at the roses as far as I’m concerned… they’re both peaking at the perfect time!

But now on to what you’ve all been waiting for… the winners of the Derby Handicap Contest! No need for a tiebreaker round!:

  • Merlinoftheroundtable, winner by a romping 41 points which included landing the exacta today!
  • Exactagirl, second place with 26 points, picking Secret Circle for second place today!
  • Nicoledowland, who ironically sent me her picks a week ago because she’ll be on vacation, is third with 24 points.

Excellent work ladies. Look for your messages coming up in a few and congratulations :) Thank you to everyone for participating!

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