Preakness possible as Bodemeister exits Derby in good shape

Trainer Bob Baffert said his two Kentucky Derby runners, Bodemeister and Liaison, came out of Saturday's at Churchill Downs race in good shape

Trainer Bob Baffert said his two Kentucky Derby runners, Bodemeister and Liaison, came out of Saturday's at Churchill Downs race in good shape.

The duo -- who ran second and sixth, respectively, in Derby 138 -- will stay at Baffert's barn at Churchill Downs and are possible for the Preakness Stakes on May 19 at Pimlico. Paynter, another Baffert colt who worked five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 on Sunday morning under the Twin Spires, is also a possibility for the Preakness.

Baffert was scheduled to fly home to California Sunday afternoon, but will return to Louisville, Kentucky, next weekend and decide whether any of them will go on to Baltimore for the Preakness.

Bodemeister's performance, setting blistering fraction and still managing to stay on to finish second, was a major story line of the 138th Kentucky Derby. It was the Empire Maker colt's fifth race of 2012, but Baffert didn't rule out a Preakness try.

"I will let him tell me if he's ready, like I did with Lookin at Lucky," Baffert said, referring to the bay colt who finished sixth as the favorite in the 2010 Kentucky Derby despite drawing the rail before going on to win the Preakness.

"With Lookin At Lucky, the day after the Derby I told them, 'We're not going to run,'" Baffert said. "The next Monday I said, 'Not only are we going, we're going to win this.' I've got to wait and see if he shows me a spark."

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rode Bodemeister and was at Baffert's barn Sunday morning to breeze Paynter. Smith said he was impressed with the way Bodemeister ran on after covering the first quarter in :22 1/5, the half-mile in :45 1/5 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:09 4/5.

"It's the first time I finished second in the Derby that I wasn't pissed off," he said. "I was so proud of him. He ran an amazing race. He did all the dirty work. That :45 kind of got us. The last sixteenth killed us, but he ran amazing."

Smith said he had looked at replays of the race to judge his ride, but didn't second-guess the strategy.

"I watched it over and over again and thought maybe I would see something I could have done a little bit different," the rider admitted. "He caught such a flyer leaving the gate I had to take advantage of it. We did."

After Bodemeister drew post 6, placing him inside of the other speed horses Trinniberg and Hansen, Baffert told Smith that they would have to leave the gate running and to get the lead and set the pace. Baffert didn't talk his plan, though, and was careful not to tout his horse in hopes of making people think he was down on the colt's chances.

"I played it low key because I knew we were going to be the speed," Baffert said. "I didn't want the Trinniberg camp and the Hansen camp to say, 'Oh, that guy thinks he's going to do this thing.' I just played it down low and everyone thought, 'He's not happy about his horse'"

Baffert said he wasn't surprised that Liaison ran well in the Derby over a surface he liked.

"He was training like he was going to run a big race and he did," Baffert said of the Indian Charlie bay colt. "He moved up when he got here."