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Apr 20, 2012

Up the Backstretch: West Coast handicapper likes Bodemeister

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - All the major Kentucky Derby prep races have been run and it's time for people to sort through the information and come up with their top 3-year-olds. Among them is Santa Anita Park handicapper Jon White.

The veteran line maker gave his initial outlook on the 138th Run for the Roses to Ed Golden of Santa Anita. White does not set the odds for the Kentucky Derby, that job belongs to Churchill Downs' Mike Battaglia.

This past Saturday's races really shook the trail up after Bodemeister won the Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths and Dullahan ran down 6-5 favorite Hansen to win the Blue Grass Stakes.

Colleague Jeff Frank had the Blue Grass exacta and a box of his three Arkansas Derby horses, Isn't He Clever, Bodemeister and Secret Circle, also would have been a winning ticket.

"I think most people would agree that Bodemeister's Arkansas Derby was the most impressive performance that we've seen by a 3-year-old so far this year," White said. "He not only won by a big margin, he earned a 105 Beyer, which is the top figure this year by any of the potential Kentucky Derby starters. The 105 Beyer is a preliminary figure. Randy Moss, who makes the Beyers for Oaklawn Park, said via Twitter that the 105 is under review and doesn't become 'official' until Monday. Moss indicated the official figure actually may end up being higher than 105."

White believes this year's class is shaping up as a solid group of 3-year- olds.

"Even though this appears to be a quality crop of 3-year-olds with the likes of Union Rags, Gemologist, I'll Have Another and Creative Cause, I definitely think Bodemeister is going to be the Kentucky Derby favorite based on that speed-figure power and his brilliance in the Arkansas Derby," he said.

"I think Bodemeister's big win in the Arkansas Derby also means he will be a shorter price in the Kentucky Derby than both I'll Have Another and Creative Cause (who ran one-two in the Santa Anita Derby). Yes, Creative Cause beat Bodemeister in the San Felipe. But Creative Cause beat Bodemeister by only a half length. And don't forget that Bodemeister, coming off a maiden win, was a slight favorite over Creative Cause in the San Felipe. The key in terms of their relative Kentucky Derby prices is what has occurred since the San Felipe. Creative Cause got beat in the Santa Anita Derby, albeit narrowly, while Bodemeister romped in the Arkansas Derby."

As much as White expects Bodemeister to be the Kentucky Derby favorite, he knows several other runners will receive plenty of support.

"A lot of people like Union Rags. But I also think a lot of people are going to be betting elsewhere after Union Rags finished third in the Florida Derby. And, like Gemologist, Union Rags has never earned a triple-digit Beyer," White noted.

"Gemologist, who won the Wood Memorial, is undefeated. But even though Gemologist has never lost in five career starts, I don't think his odds will be shorter than Bodemeister's in the Kentucky Derby. Gemologist doesn't have a single triple-digit Beyer and won the Wood by a small margin (a neck)."

We have seen some surprises along the Triple Crown trail this year, none bigger that 109-1 longshot Hero of Order winning the Louisiana Derby. However, form has held in the most of the major preps. Bodemeister was the 2-1 favorite in the Arkansas Derby and Dullahan was the 3-1 second pick behind Hansen in the Blue Grass.

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