The Morning After: Plans for Derby Starters
The morning after the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was joking with the media about Zayat Stables’ runner-up Bodemeister --who seems to have exited a brilliant runner-up effort in fine fettle.
“How am I supposed to say it?” he asked, referring to the rote phrases horsemen use to describe their runners the morning after a big race. “He ate up well. He was bright and alert this morning.”
Baffert walked back from the Churchill Downs oval having watched Zayat’s Paynter, runner up in the April 30 Derby Trial (gr. III), work five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 under jockey Mike Smith. The colt is under consideration for a run in the May 19 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), but a decision on whether Bodemeister will head to Baltimore will wait a week or so.
“He looks pretty good, but he’s not going anywhere right now,” Baffert said. “He’ll stay here and I’ll come back in a week and see how he looks. I’m just going to let him tell me if he’s ready, just like I did with (2010 Preakness winner) Lookin at Lucky . With Lookin at Lucky, after the Derby I told them, ‘There’s no way we’re going.’ By Monday I said, ‘Not only are we going, we’re going to win the thing!’ So I’ve got to wait until he shows me a spark.”
Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison, sixth in the Derby, also exited the race in fine shape. No determination has been made regarding a potential Preakness start for him.
“We’ll have them under observation,” Baffert said.
One horse in the field of 20 emerged with a pronounced injury; 19th-place finisher Take Charge Indy was found to have a chip in his left front ankle after undergoing x-rays the morning of May 6. Trainer Pat Byrne said the prognosis is good and expects the colt to be back under tack in 60 days. He hopes to have a prep race and make the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) in November.
Meanwhile, owner Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing said third-place Derby finisher Dullahan was unlikely for the Preakness although he had not discussed plans with trainer Dale Romans, who is based at Churchill Downs.
“It would be three races in five weeks,” Crawford said of the April 14 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner. “Belmont’s a possibility.”
Crawford said the half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird was too wide, but he didn’t blame jockey Kent Desormeaux because “He just didn’t get the trip.”
Highly likely for a Preakness bid is Team Valor International’s Went the Day Well, fourth in the Derby for trainer Graham Motion. The colt will fly to Baltimore, Md., May 7, along with Derby winner I'll Have Another .
“He seems fine, he has one pretty good cut on his right front ankle but it looks more superficial,” Motion said of the March 23 Spiral Stakes (gr. III) winner. “I think that if he seems alright this week, there’s a pretty strong possibility he’ll be in the Preakness. The beautiful thing about running in the Spiral is he’s had six weeks heading into the race; it’s not like we’ve crammed in a couple. It’ll be a little bit more laid-back this year than it was last year, that’s for sure.”
Motion trained 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom to a runner-up finish in the Preakness.
“Went the Day Well ran a huge race,” he said. “I think (with) another jump he’s second and with a good trip he has a shot to win the race. It’s frustrating but we had a beautiful trip last year, we had the trip the winner had this year, and that’s what it’s all about in this race, you’ve got to have a good trip.
"The start cost him. (Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) wanted to be about 8-10 lengths further ahead at the start than he was. That didn’t work out. Then he got checked in the first turn. That’s where all the bad things start to happen..”
Others from the 20-horse Derby field were departing for various locales or planning to do so. Fifth-place finisher Creative Cause left Churchill early the morning of May 6 to return to California, and trainer Mike Harrington said a determination regarding a Preakness start would be made after the horse recovered from the Derby at his West Coast base. Trainer Michael Matz said Union Rags would depart for Fair Hill later the evening of May 6, and that he would confer with owner Phyllis Wyeth regarding a potential Preakness bid after running seventh in the Derby.
Rousing Sermon (eighth) was scheduled for a May 7 flight back to California by Hall of Famer trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. El Padrino (13th) was to fly to Todd Pletcher’s New York base later this afternoon and stablemate Gemologist (16th) was slated to depart for WinStar Farm for a brief rest. Pletcher called both “unlikely” to go to Baltimore.
Alpha (12th) had already departed for New York via an early morning flight, and Done Talking (14th) boarded a van back to Laurel Park around 8 a.m. Daddy Long Legs (20th) flew to Chicago early in the morning as well, on his way back to Ireland.
Hall of Fame horseman D. Wayne Lukas said he would confer with owner Brad Kelley regarding whether Optimizer (11th) would make a Preakness bid. The colt came out of the race well and, should he head to Baltimore, would likely leave Churchill around May 15 or 16.
Prospective (19th) will remain at Churchill Downs and train toward a target that remains to be determined.
“He’s okay, thank goodness,” trainer Mark Casse remarked. “He clipped heels about 10 jumps out of the gate and the rider almost fell off. He’s a little cut up with some nicks and scrapes but he seems to be okay. I don’t really know when his next start will be; definitely no Preakness.”
Ron Mitchell contributed to this story.
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