Zayat Stables’ Bodemeister , the runaway winner of the Arkansas Derby (gr. I), was installed the 4-1 morning line choice for the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands after post positions were drawn May 2. The son of Empire Maker from the barn of three-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert will break from post 6.
“He has a chance from there,” Baffert said of Bodemeister’s post. “I just didn’t want the one hole.”
“My original thought was I was not crazy about it,” said Union Rags’ trainer Michael Matz. “I just don’t see why he can’t be right behind Bodemeister and be right with him. He’s going to have to let him come out and run a little bit. It’s not the worst thing in the world.”
Baffert’s other runner, Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison (50-1), drew post 20.
“You gotta take what they give you,” Baffert said.
Joking about his recent heart attack while in Dubai for the World Cup program that resulted in the trainer having three stents, Baffert said, “I don’t know which is worse, drawing the one hole or getting three stents. I told Jill (his wife), if it’s between three stents or the one hole I think I would take the three stents.”
Twenty-one 3-year-olds were entered for the Derby and with entry determined by graded stakes earnings, My Adonis is on the outside looking in. In the first year of taking up to four also-eligibles for the Kentucky Derby, he’ll be the race’s lone also-eligible. If there is a scratch before 9 a.m. on May 4, My Adonis will draw in as No. 20. All horses will carry 126 pounds.
Post time for the 138th Run for the Roses is slated for 6:24 p.m. EDT. NBC will offer three hours of Derby coverage from 4-7 p.m.
With 20 starters the Derby will be worth $2,219,600, the winner taking home first prize of $1,459,600. Second place is worth $400,000; third place is worth $200,000; fourth place is worth $100,000, with $60,000 going to the fifth-place finisher. To get in, it is $25,000 to enter with another $25,000 due to start.
The number 1 post position has not been kind to Derby runners of late. While the rail, along with the fifth post position, has produced the most winners, 12 (since 1900), it has been 25 years since Ferdinand came from post 1 to win the Derby in 1986. It was a 23-year gap prior to that to Chateaugay’s score from the rail in 1966.
Adding drama to the draw, the 1 and the 14 spots were the last two to be selected. Remaining to be drawn were the top two graded stakes earners: Hansen and Daddy Long Legs . After the Irish-based Daddy Long Legs drew the rail with the nineteenth pill pulled, Hansen, the champion 2-year-old male of 2011 and winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), was given the 14 spot with the last selection.
“The good doctor (Hansen) was shaking like a leaf,” joked Hansen’s trainer Mike Maker. “I was playing it cool. There is nothing you can do about it so I don’t worry about things you can’t control.
“Fourteen is perfect, we’re outside of all the other speed. I’m hoping we can sit right off them.”
“Mike said, ‘Why are you scared? You’re a doctor; you’re supposed to have ice in your veins,’” said Dr. Hansen. “If we were in the one-hole we’d have to chase after Secretariat’s track record. We don’t have to worry about that now.
“We’re going to win this race. We’re not worried about anyone.”
The main starting gate will hold the first 14 horses with an auxiliary gate holding spots 15-20. There is a space between the two gates.
Hansen’s morning-line price will start at 10-1. By Tapit , out of the Sir Cat mare Stormy Sunday, Hansen has made three starts this year. He won Aqueduct’s Gotham Stakes (gr. III) after tasting defeat for the first time in the Jan. 29 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) over a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park. He prepped for the Derby with a runner-up finish to Dullahan in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has a pair of entrants, was interviewed just prior to the draw. He noted he wanted an outside post for his unbeaten Gemologist , who wound up drawing the 15 post. Pletcher preferred an inside post for El Padrino . El Padrino drew just to Gemologist's outside in 16.
WinStar Farm’s Gemologist, winner of the Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I), was made the third choice at 6-1.
“I wouldn’t trade places with anyone,” said Elliott Walden, WinStar’s president, CEO, and racing manager. “I like having that extra space between the gates.”
J. Paul Reddam’s I'll Have Another , the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner, drew post 19.
“It wasn’t our first pick but it’s better than the rail,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “The bottom line is the horse is doing great and he will load near the last there and hopefully Mario can get a good position, save some ground and win.”
Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, the Blue Grass winner, is at 8-1 and will break from post 5. He has raced three times on the main track at Churchill Downs. He ran third and fifth in a pair of maiden special weight races last summer, then returned to run fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Eight Derby starters ran in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile: Hansen (1st), Union Rags (2nd), Creative Cause (3rd), Dullahan, Optimizer (8th), Alpha (11th), Daddy Long Legs (12th), and Prospective (13th).
Post Position, Horse, Jockey, M-L
1. Daddy Long Legs, Colm O’Donoghue, 30-1
2. Optimizer, Jon Court, 50-1
3. Take Charge Indy, Calvin Borel, 15-1
4. Union Rags, Julien Leparoux, 9-2
5. Dullahan, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1
6. Bodemeister, Mike Smith, 4-1
7. Rousing Sermon, Jose Lezcano, 50-1
8. Creative Cause, Joel Rosario, 12-1
9. Trinniberg, Willie Martinez, 50-1
10. Daddy Nose Best, Garrett Gomez, 15-1
11. Alpha, Rajiv Maragh, 15-1
12. Prospective, Luis Contreras, 30-1
13. Went the Day Well, John Velazquez, 20-1
14. Hansen, Ramon Dominguez, 10-1
15. Gemologist, Javier Castellano, 6-1
16. El Padrino, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1
17. Done Talking, Sheldon Russell, 50-1
18. Sabercat, Corey Nakatani, 30-1
19. I’ll Have Another, Martin Gutierrez, 12-1
20. Liaison, Martin Garcia, 50-1
AE – My Adonis, Elvis Trujillo, x-1