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May 10, 2012

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


               The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby has come and gone and the California horse I’LL HAVE ANOTHER, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby ran hard down the stretch to nail the leader BODEMEISTER for the win. This was the first Kentucky Derby win for trainer Doug O’Neill and for jockey Mario Gutierrez who was riding in his first Kentucky Derby.

               As the gates opened, the slight favorite BODEMEISTER was sent to the lead, outrunning the fleet sprinter TRINNIBERG into the first turn to secure the lead through an opening quarter mile in 22:1. As they moved around the clubhouse turn, BODEMEISTER held the lead with TRINNIBERG in pursuit in second with HANSEN, last year’s two year old champion not that far off the lead in third. The half mile went in a very fast 45:1 and the six furlong time was 1:09:4.

               BODEMEISTER continued on the lead despite those quick fractions with surprisingly TRINNIBERG still in pursuit racing in second and HANSEN still there in third. As they passed the mile mark in a sharp 1:35 flat, BODEMEISTER started to open up the lead as TRINNIBERG began to tire and HANSEN also starting to drop back.

               As they moved into the lane BODEMEISTER looked like he might be able to pull off this wire to wire win even though he was setting some very solid fractions but the closers started to move. I’LL HAVE ANOTHER, under jockey Mario Gutierrez, his first Derby mount, started to close in. Despite breaking from post 19, Gutierrez was able to secure a perfect spot racing in sixth while saving some ground. As they moved around the far turn BODEMEISTER remained clear as the others that were chasing him began to tire, I’LL HAVE ANOTHER moved into second and was closing ground on BODEMEISTER who finally began to tire from those early fractions. I’LL HAVE ANOTHER took over the lead from BODEMEISTER at the 1/16th pole and edged away late to finish 1 and ½ lengths in front on the wire. BODEMEISTER ran great in defeat finishing second by a neck over DULLAHAN with WENT THE DAY WELL checking in a closing fourth. CREATIVE CAUSE finished fifth after looming in midstretch with the longshot and the other Bob Baffert trainee LIAISON rounding out the top six.

               The second choice in the race, UNION RAGS had a disastrous trip according to his trainer Michael Matz. “When I saw him come by the stands for the first time, I knew we were in big trouble,” Matz said. “The way the track was playing, you had to be closer than 18th. They just weren’t closing like that. We talked about it with Julien and we wanted to be third or fourth coming out of the first turn. There’s a big difference between third and 18th. It seemed like everything Julien tried put him in the wrong situation. I guess he just couldn’t get it done.” UNION RAGS, broke a step slowly and then was bumped forcing him to the back of the pack where he never had a chance to recover. Racing in 18th early on with seemingly no way to get out and get a chance to run, UNION RAGS was forced to check hard again on the final turn losing more ground. When he finally did get outside and was able to run he closed some ground through the lane to finish 7th.  This is the second race in a row that UNION RAGS got a bad trip losing both efforts. Matz was still upset after the race about his last two trips, “I was really disappointed in his last two races,” he said. “I don’t mind getting beat, I just don’t like getting beat the way he did in both the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. He never got a chance to run or really show his true ability.”

               It looks as though at this point that UNION RAGS will skip the Preakness and point towards the Belmont Stakes. He is still one of the better three year olds and it would be interesting to see if Matz makes a rider change from Julien Leparoux.

               The decision on BODEMEISTER has yet to be made but he surely proved that he is an extremely talented horse and would be very dangerous if he moved on to Baltimore for the Preakness. I’LL HAVE ANOTHER is definitely going to the Preakness and will try to continue his quest to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 when AFFIRMED was able to win all three races defeating ALYDAR in all of them.

              



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