Grade I winner and two-time classic-placed Bodemeister has been diagnosed with an injury to his left shoulder, it was announced Aug. 21, and upon deliberation among veterinarians and the colt's owners, a decision was made to retire the 3-year-old son of Empire Maker to stud at Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm.
Bodemeister has begun treatment and a full recovery is expected in the coming months, but the bay Virginia-bred would not have been able to return in time for major races at the end of 2012.
"Bodemeister has a peripheral nerve injury which caused atrophy of the infraspinatus muscle in his left shoulder," Dr. Larry Bramlage, specialist from Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, said in a release. "This made us look at something unusual, rather than a normal lameness. His legs are perfect but he was clinical when jogging to the left. After ruling out neck issues with X-rays and a myelogram, we feel confident in the diagnosis. It will take approximately 60 days to heal."
According to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, the injury likely occured a couple of weeks ago at Del Mar when Bodemeister stumbled during routine training. It was enough to throw his exercise rider to the ground.
"He was just never quite right after that and we couldn't figure out what was going on with him," said Baffert. "It's extremely unfortunate. We wanted to win the Breeders' Cup with him."
Bodemeister, who is out of the grade III-winning Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent, was bred by Audley Farm. The winner of the 2006 Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) is a half sister to two stakes horses and is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning mare Parade Queen (by A.P. Indy). Parade Queen won or placed in five graded events including a victory in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (gr. IIIT).
Empire Maker, winner of the 2004 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), is the sire of 33 stakes winners including Royal Delta, last year's champion 3-year-old filly, and In Lingerie, winner of this year's Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II). He currently ranks second on the North American sire list and has 10 stakes winners in 2012. He entered stud at Juddmonte Farms near Lexington but was sold in November 2010. He now stands at Shizunai Stallion Station in Japan.
Bodemeister was a $260,000 purchase from Book 2 during the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale. Consigned by Audley Farm by Brookdale Sales, agent, he was purchased by Ahmed Zayat's Zayat Stables and named for Baffert's son, Bode.
Bodemeister was unraced at 2. After finishing second in his debut, he turned heads with a 9 1/4-length win in a one-mile maiden special weight Feb. 11 at Santa Anita Park. He made his stakes debut in his following start, running second, beaten less than a length by Creative Cause, in the March 1 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II).
Shipped to Hot Springs, Ark., for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I), Bodemeister delivered a scintillating performance, crushing his rivals by 9 1/2 lengths after getting 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.71. That effort landed him the favorite's role for the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
The week before the Derby it was confirmed that Mike and Tiffany Moreno had purchased a minority interest in Bodemeister from Zayat Stables.
Breaking from post 6 in the Kentucky Derby, Bodemeister showed great speed while leading for most of the way. Holding a three length lead at the eighth pole under the Twin Spires, he was caught late by I'll Have Another . Bodemeister finished second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. He returned two weeks later to again be the favorite in a classic race, the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Again, he entered the stretch with a commanding lead, but came up a half-length shy to I'll Have Another. It was an additional 8 3/4 lengths back to the third-place finishing Creative Cause.
Bodemeister won or placed in all six of starts and earned $1,304,800.
It was announced in late June that Bodemeister would stand at Winstar upon his retirement. Initial plans are for the colt to rehabilitate through mid-October at WinStar before being available for inspection by breeders.
"The positive thing is that we now know what the issue is and it's treatable. Bodemeister will be back to full health," said Elliott Walden, president and CEO at WinStar. "Unfortunately, he would not be able to come back as a racehorse in time to make any of the year-end goals such as the Breeders' Cup, so Mr. Zayat, Mr. Moreno and myself came to the conclusion that it was best to retire him. With his raw speed, four Beyer Speed Figures over 100, Empire Maker killing it, and his good looks, we think Bodemeister is the best stallion prospect this year. We're looking ahead to what we believe will be an exciting future at stud for Bodemeister."
"You must always put the horse first, and it is in Bodemeister's best interest to retire at this time," said owner Ahmed Zayat. "The sportsman in me is very disappointed because the sky was the limit for his racing career. He is the most brilliant horse that I've had the privilege of owning and my family and I will miss him thrilling us in the afternoons. But every end is a new beginning, and we'll now look forward with great anticipation to racing little Bodes in the future."
"Bodemeister gave me and my family the thrill of a lifetime in the classics this year," Mike Moreno added. "I decided to invest in him prior to the Derby because of his exquisite talent and pedigree, and although this injury kept us from fulfilling all of our dreams on the track, I look forward to supporting him in his next career."
A stud fee will be announced at a later date.