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Apr 20, 2012

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


On April 14th there were two major prep races at two different racetracks. The Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. These two races looked primed to have a major impact on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

            In the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, a Grade I run over 1 and 1/8th miles with a purse of $750,000 was run over the Polytrack. A large field of 13 horses entered the gate with HANSEN, last year’s two year old champion coming off a sharp win in the Gotham at Aqueduct was sent off as the 6-5 favorite. DULLAHAN, was sent off as the 3-1 second choice and was entering the Blue Grass off a good second in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park over the turf. As the gates opened, HANSEN was sent right to the lead and led through solid fractions of 23, 46:3, 1:11:1 while being tracked by longshot GUNG HO. As they moved into the far turn, HANSEN and jockey Ramon Dominguez still held that advantage over GUNG HO while DULLAHAN and jockey Kent Desormeaux were moving up the inside gaining some ground before angling out in the lane. HANSEN put away GUNG HO and held a clear lead until the 1/8th pole, DULLAHAN in the meantime found a seem and put in a very solid late run rolling by HANSEN late to score by over a length. HANSEN easily held second and GUNG HO checked in third at 31-1. HOLY CANDY,  a California invader ran on well for fourth at 11-1 in his first try versus winners after a solid maiden score. The final time of this race was a solid 1:47:4 and the top two finishers will be contenders come the first Saturday in May. An interesting side note was that HANSEN’s owner, Kendall Hansen wanted to dye the horse’s tail blue and run in the race like that. He actually did dye his tail but then was told by the stewards that he couldn’t do that so the horse had to have the tail dyed back to the original color. I am sure this was not something the horse enjoyed and it might have had something to do with his loss. Not to take anything away from DULLAHAN who ran great to take a horse out of his routine on race day just doesn’t make any sense. I have heard people who think that it is no big deal to run the horse with a dyed tail but all it does is cause issues. Let the horses run the race and enough with the circus atmosphere for no reason.

            Moving on to the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn park. It was a Grade I race run over 1 and 1/8th miles and it carried a purse of $1 million dollars. Eleven horses went postward with the Bob Baffert trainees going off as the top two choices, BODEMEISTER at 2-1 and SECRET CIRCLE at 5-2. As the gates opened, BODEMEISTER breaking from post 11 was sent right to the lead under Mike Smith and was able to clear to the rail by the time they hit the turn with STAT stalking from second and SECRET CIRCLE tracking those two from third. After setting fractions of 23, 46:2, 1:11:1 BODEMEISTER held a two length lead with STAT in second and SECRET CIRLCE not far behind in third. As they entered the lane, Mike Smith asked BODEMEISTER for his best and he gave it to him as he drew away through the lane to score by just under 10 lengths in a final time of 1:48:4, the final 1/8th of a mile coming in under 12 seconds. SECRET CIRCLE just held on for second to complete the Baffert exacta, over SABERCAT who ran an improved race checking in third. COZZETTI was fourth with ATIGUN checking in fifth and the early pace presser STAT fading to sixth. NAJJAAR, who closed well in the Rebel never really got going and could only manage a well beaten seventh. Off that win BODEMEISTER threw his name in the hat for favoritism come the first Saturday and had many people talking Triple Crown. I know it is very early for that but it gets the juices flowing to watch a performance like that. There was an announcement made on Thursday 4/19/12 that SECRET CIRCLE would be taken off the trail for the Kentucky Derby. Less than two weeks away, can’t wait.



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