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May 04, 2012

Bodemeister and Union Rags favored in 138th Kentucky Derby


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister and Union Rags head the field for Saturday's 138th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The 1 1/4 mile race for three-year-olds is the first leg of racing's Triple Crown.

Only 20 horses are allowed to start the race, but this is the first year that an also-eligible horse has been permitted. My Adonis became the first also-eligible in the storied history of the Kentucky Derby and will draw into the race if there is a scratch by Friday at 9 a.m. (et).

The winner of the Kentucky Derby will have the chance to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, a drought approaching 34 years.

Bodemeister, trained by Bob Baffert, is the 4-1 morning line favorite in the 20 horse field. The colt will start from post six with Mike Smith riding. Smith won the 2005 Kentucky Derby aboard Giacomo.

Owned by Zayat Stables, Bodemeister blew through the Arkansas Derby to win by 9 1/2 lengths. Earlier this year he was second to Creative Cause in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. The colt has earnings of $704,800.

"He's a very talented horse," said Ahmed Zayat. "I'm confident, I'm confident."

Baffert also has Arnold Zetcher's Liaison in the Run for the Roses. The colt will be ridden by Martin Garcia from the far outside post and is 50-1 in the program.

"Going a mile and a quarter, I'm going to put the blinkers back on him and let him break, just settle and come running late," Baffert said about Liaison. "He really has improved being on this racing surface. He hated Santa Anita. It was just too hard for him."

Garcia is seeking his first Derby win while Baffert goes after his fourth. The Hall of Fame conditioner won the race with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002).

Track oddsmaker Mike Battaglia has put Union Rags in as the 9-2 second pick. Trained by Michael Matz, Union Rags will start from post four with Julien Leparoux aboard who has never won the Run for the Roses.

Matz won the 2006 Derby with Barbaro before the colt suffered a career ending injury in the Preakness Stakes.

"I've had one great horse in Barbaro and I think I might have a second one. It's a great opportunity. It's a great feeling," Matz said. "It's been six years since I came back where I think I have a chance, and that's what we work for."

Union Rags, owned by Chadds Ford Stable, began 2012 with a four length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, but was only third as the 2-5 favorite in the Florida Derby.

The colt, second in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, has won four of six career starts for $1,198,000.

The 6-1 third choice is Wood Memorial winner Gemologist. The colt, trained by Todd Pletcher, will break from post 15 with jockey Javier Castellano going for his first Kentucky Derby win. Pletcher had Super Saver win the 2010 Run for the Roses.

Owned by WinStar Farm, Gemologist is the winner of all five career starts for $784,855. His only other stakes win came in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.

"What's important is that not only is he undefeated, but he's two-for-two at Churchill. That's significant as we've seen in the past," Pletcher said. "Not all horses take to this surface. The fact the he's won twice around two turns here I think is a big edge."

El Padrino also comes out of the Pletcher barn for the Derby. Owned by Let's Go Stable, the colt will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano from post 16 with morning line odds of 20-1. Bejarano has yet to win the Run for the Roses.

Here is the full field from the rail out for the Kentucky Derby: Daddy Long Legs, 30-1, Colm O'Donoghue; Optimizer, 50-1, Jon Court; Take Charge Indy, 15-1, Calvin Borel; Union Rags, 9-2, Julien Leparoux; Dullahan, 8-1, Kent Desormeaux; Bodemeister, 4-1, Mike Smith; Rousing Sermon, 50-1, Jose Lezcano; Creative Cause, 12-1, Joel Rosario; Trinniberg, 50-1, Willie Martinez; Daddy Nose Best, 15-1, Garrett Gomez; Alpha, 15-1, Rajiv Maragh; Prospective, 30-1, Luis Contreras; Went the Day Well, 20-1, John Velazquez; Hansen, 10-1, Ramon Dominguez; Gemologist, 6-1, Javier Castellano; El Padrino, 20-1, Rafael Bejarano; Done Talking, 50-1, Sheldon Russell; Sabercat, 30-1, Corey Nakatani; I'll Have Another, 12-1, Mario Gutierrez and Liaison, 50-1, Martin Garcia.

Post-time for the 138th Kentucky Derby is set for 6:24 p.m. (et).

The Saturday weather forecast calls for isolated thunderstorms with a post- time temperature of around 85.

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