Saturday, May 19, 2012

Preakness Stakes May Be Best Bet For Bodemeister To Win A Classic

Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Preakness Stakes (G1) five times and he has good chance to pick up another win today when he sends the talented Empire Maker colt Bodemeister to the starting gate as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the 137th running of the prestigious $1,000,000 graded stakes race.

Bodemeister was my favorite to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) and I like him in today’s race too. I also like the other horses that I profiled for the Derby – I’ll Have Another (5-2), Creative Cause (6-1), Went The Day Well (6-1) – and I expect them to finish in the top four.

Except for Creative Cause, I think that any of those horses could win the Preakness and I don’t see any newcomers to the trail being a factor. Creative Cause is a tough competitor and he always puts forth his best effort but I think he would have to run a career-best race in order to win.

Since his maiden debut in January, I thought that Bodemiester had the potential to be a classic champion and the Preakness may be the best shot for him to win a classic race.

Bodemeister, I’ll Have Another and Went The Day Well are sire-line descendants of Mr. Prospector and since 1990 that line has dominated the Triple Crown and produced 11 Preakness Stakes winners: Lookin At Lucky (2010), Curlin (2007), Afleet Alex (2005), Smarty Jones (2004), Funny Cide (2003), War Emblem (2002), Point Given (2001), Red Bullet (2000), Real Quiet (1998), Timber Country (1995) and Hansel (1991).

If I’ll Have Another wins, I’ll be happy, too, as that will bring us closer to the potential for a Triple Crown winner – after a 34-year drought. I’ll also be especially happy for the young jockey Mario Gutierrez who won the Kentucky Derby on his first try and could, perhaps, win the Triple Crown.

Now that’s quite a story.  

A horse that really intrigues me from this talented group is Went The Day Well and if I had structured my Derby superfecta ticket a little differently I’d be $96,000 richer today.

While Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another are near top form, I think that Went The Day Well still has room for improvement and I’m looking forward to see how well he progresses as a 3-year-old.

And you can’t find a better ambassador for the “sport of Kings” than his trainer Graham Motion.

Good luck today and have fun.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kentucky Derby 138 Wrap UP

Well, Kentucky Derby 138 is in the history book and overall it was a lot of fun as well as profitable.

All five of the horses I profiled in my Kentucky Derby blogBodemeister, I’ll Have Another, Dullahan, Creative Cause and Went The Day Well finished in the top five of the Derby and I cashed on the exacta and trifecta but narrowly missed the hitting the superfecta.

The pedigree is the most important tool I use to determine if a young colt has star potential. Past performances and the will to win or, as my friend Kerry Thomas would say – the Emotional Conformation of the horse – are also important factors I look at. 

However, Kerry is better than I am at measuring the emotional conformation of a horse and his herd dynamic profile of the Derby horses for the online magazine Kentucky Confidential was spot on.

Kerry is the founder of the Thomas Herding Technique and a pioneering researcher of equine behavior. Together, we co-authored the recently published book: Horse Profiling, The Secret To Motivating Equine Athletes, published by Trafalgar Square Books. (For a sneak peek of the book online visit this link: To order the book, visit this link:

The book is the only project that Kerry and I have worked on and we have never compared notes on the Derby horses. His analysis of the Derby horses is always a closely guarded secret. So, it was definitely pleasing to see that when his analysis debuted online for Kentucky Confidential that he thought highly of the same horses I liked and eventually wrote about on my Derby blog.

In previous blogs I’ve used those previously mentioned tools to pick the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Animal Kingdom, Pour Moi, Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, and Summer Bird. And this year, those tools helped me to single out the top five finishers of the Kentucky Derby.

All of the horses I profiled had outstanding pedigrees that were well suited for the Kentucky Derby. In addition, Kerry noted in his analysis that they all had a high herd dynamic that is so crucial if a young Thoroughbred is going to be competitive at the highest level.

Here’s Kerry’s analysis of I’ll Have Another: 

… He’s very in control. He’s not a horse that wastes any emotional energy. Psychologically, this horse was born to run a classic distance.

Other horses respond to his presence, and he makes no physical effort to invoke their reactions. That means he is a very powerful horse.

His emotional conformation supersedes physical stimulus. He translates information from the environment to his body without showing any outward reactions. This horse doesn’t panic. He’s very sound mentally. ...

I look for big things from this horse, and I would not overlook him in the Derby. 

Here’s what Kerry had to say about Bodemeister: 

Bodemeister’s patterns of motion are completely different than any horse in this field or any horse I’ve seen so far. …

His sweet spot is a forward distance focus, and he doesn’t need a target. His target is open space. That’s where he does his best. …

He just wants to be free of all of it, and his comfort zone is to move forward and away.

…At this point in his development, I think Bodemeister is better at being chased than he is at chasing or moving in a group. …To win this Derby, I think he will have to get out and go. I would not want to see him tangled up in Derby traffic competing for space. That’s not his sweet spot psychologically. 

His analysis of Dullahan: 

Dullahan has shown growth at age 3, probably the most growth of any of these horses from last year. At age 2, Dullahan showed ability, but he was slow on his release points. He could get stuck in a crowd and he was prone to using up too much energy on space battles. 

In his races this year, Dullahan’s transitions are smoother, and he is a more emotionally stable horse. He still doesn’t release from his targets as fast as he could, but he has shown he can move into space with the best of them.

His patterns of motion are very specific, and I think this horse needs to be strategically ridden. I think Dullahan likes close contact, and he can use space battles to builds momentum and launch forward. …

If his jockey can maneuver him strategically to do his best work in the second half of the race, he could be the one to skirt through. 

His analysis of Went The Day Well: 

Went the Day Well shows the very rare ability to adapt to whatever situation he is in, and that’s a great quality. This horse has some grit, but he doesn’t waste emotional energy. …

He is absolutely at the top levels of herd dynamic. There is no doubt about that. …
He responds to every situation he is put in favorably. He shows perhaps the most diverse patterns of motion in this field. I like him a lot. …

Went the Day Well also shows great time-in-motion skills. I think he could run efficiently for a long ways. Distance favors this horse. If the other horse get tired or make mistakes, he should be there to take advantage. 

Kerry’s analysis of Creative Cause: 

Creative Cause rates extremely high on individual herd dynamic (head-to-head battles). … 

I rank Creative Cause a hair below the top horses going a classic distance. Creative Cause is very singular in his focus, and that could be a problem because he will be prone to using up energy dealing with traffic and space battles in the Kentucky Derby.

Creative Cause is all forward-motion energy. He is fantastic with nothing but space in front of him or with only one horse to battle with. His natural pattern of motion is to attack one target — to grab open space or fight another competitor. …

His group dynamic in the herd is less established than his singular dynamic. He’s gritty, and he’s a fighter. 

The pedigree is an important tool I use to measure the star potential of young colts and I’ve often wondered why some failed to live up to their breeding. Perhaps it was because they lacked the final piece of the breeding puzzle – a high herd dynamic and a good Emotional Conformation Profile.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bodemeister, Like Sire Empire Maker, Has Potential To Be Classic Champion, Win Kentucky Derby 138

Readers who follow my blog know that the pedigree is the most important tool I use to determine if a young colt has star potential – every now and then when studying pedigrees I have a “WOW” moment.

In addition, past performances and the will to win are also important factors I look at. However, my friend Kerry Thomas, founder of the Thomas Herding Technique, is better than I am at measuring the emotional conformation of a horse and his herd dynamic profile of the Derby horses can be found in the online magazine Kentucky Confidential.

In previous blogs I’ve used those tools to pick the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Animal Kingdom, Pour Moi, Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, and Summer Bird. This year’s “WOW” horse and my pick to win Kentucky Derby 138 is Bodemeister, the 4-1 morning line favorite.

Since his maiden debut in January, I thought that Bodemiester had the potential to be a classic champion. His Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile, a tool I use to measure classic potential, is a whopping 96.25. The only horse left on the trail with a higher profile is Alpha (97.50).

I like the way Bodemeister, in just his third start, finished a game second to Creative Cause in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park. In that race, Bodemeister showed a lot of talent for such an inexperienced colt and was only beaten by three-quarters of a length by a seasoned colt that has finished in the money of all the big stakes races on the west coast.

Bodemeister was my pick to win the Arkansas Derby (G1) and from what I have observed, he appears to be progressing on the Derby trail much like his classic champion sire Empire Maker.

His time of 1:36.74 for the mile in the Arkansas Derby and final time of 1:48.71 shows me that Bodemeister has a good mix of speed and stamina that is so crucial if a young colt is going to win the Kentucky Derby.

The Arkansas Derby was Bodemeister’s fourth race and the Florida Derby was Empire Maker’s fourth race. Those races were breakout races for both colts and each earned a 108 Beyer speed figure and won by over 9 lengths.

The fractional times for both colts are very similar:

Bodemeister – 23.02, 46.55, 1:11.36, 1:36.74, 1:48.71
Empire Maker – 23.16, 46.56, 1:10.85, 1:36.14, 1:49.05

Bodemeister set his fractions on the lead while Empire Maker set his fractions staking a very fast Trust N Luck who led until the three-quarters pole and then Empire Maker took the lead and cruised to a 9¾-length romp.

Empire Maker’s next race was the Wood Memorial and he earned a 111 Beyer. Bodemeister’s next race is the Kentucky Derby and if he continues to move forward like Empire Maker – and I believe that he will – he’ll run a monster race and earn a huge Beyer.

Another thing I like about Bodemeister is that he is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line which has dominated the Triple Crown for the past two decades.

Since 1990, a total of 394 horses have competed in the Kentucky Derby and 108 (27%) of them have been descendants of Mr. Prospector. Of those 108 horses, 25 (23%) finished in the top four and 10 won the Derby.

In addition, both Bodemeister and his sire Empire Maker are bred on the Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer nick and since 1990 that nick, albeit with different ancestors, has been the most successful nick producing 11 classic winners:

Drosselmeyer – 2010 Belmont
Sire line – Distorted Humor/Forty Niner/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Golden Ballet/Moscow Ballet/Nijinsky/Northern Dancer

Summer Bird – 2009 Belmont
Sire line – Birdstone/Grindstone/Unbridled/Fappiano/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Hong Kong Squall/Summer Squall/Storm Bird/Northern Dancer

Curlin – 2007 Preakness
Sire line – Smart Strike/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Sherrifs Deputy/Deputy Minister/Vice Regent/Northern Dancer

Street Sense – 2007 Kentucky Derby
Sire line – Street Cry/Machiavellian/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Bedazzle/Dixieland Band/Northern Dancer

Jazil – 2006 Belmont
Sire line – Seeking The Gold/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Better Than Honour/Deputy Minister/Vice Regent/Northern Dancer

Birdstone – 2004 Belmont
Sire Line – Grindstone/Unbridled/Fappiano/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Dear Birdie/Storm Bird/Northern Dancer

Empire Maker – 2003 Belmont
Sire line – Unbridled/Fappiano/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Toussard/El Gran Senor/Northern Dancer

Fusaichi Pegasus – 2000 Kentucky Derby
Sire line – Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Angel Fever/Danzig/Northern Dancer

Victory Gallop – 1998 Belmont
Sire line – Cryptoclearance/Fappiano/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Victorious Lil/Vice Regent/Northern Dancer

Thunder Gulch – 1995 Kentucky Derby & Belmont
Sire line – Gulch/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Line of Thunder/Storm Bird/Northern Dancer

Hansel – 1991 Preakness & Belmont
Sire line – Woodman/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Count On Bonnie/Dancing Count/Northern Dancer

Storm Cat, the damsire of Bodemeister, helps to add speed to the pedigree but there are numerous strains of stamina influence throughout the pedigree. The tail-female line is reinforced with the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds A. P. Indy/Seattle Slew, Roberto and Nijinsky in addition to the sire-line Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Empire Maker and Unbridled.

Whether Bodemeister wins the Kentucky Derby remains to be seen. However, if he continues to move forward he has the potential to win the Derby and, perhaps, all of the classic races on the trail.

Other horses I like rounding out the top four include: I’ll Have Another (12-1), Dullahan (8-1) and Creative Cause (12-1).

Like Bodemeister, I’ll Have Another and Dullahan are descendants of Mr. Prospector and both colts won their last prep race coming into the Kentucky Derby.

I’ll Have Another comes into the Derby with a win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) and the Santa Anita Derby (G1).  His time of 1:47.88 in the Santa Anita Derby is the second fastest since Point Given’s time of 1:47.77 in 2001 and that’s the kind of time I like to see in a colt I believe may have classic potential.

His sire, Flower Alley, and damsire, Arch, indicate that I’ll Have Another should be able to easily handle the demanding 10-furlongs of the Kentucky Derby. Another interesting feature of his pedigree is that I’ll Have Another is a descendant of the Distorted Humor branch of Mr. Prospector and that line produced the classic champions Funny Cide and Drosselmeyer.

Trainer Dale Romans is taking Dullahan the same route to the Kentucky Derby that he took in 2010 with Paddy O’Prado who finished third in the Kentucky Derby.

In his debut as a 3-year-old, Dullahan was a one-length runner up to Howe Great in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. A month later, Dullahan won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland defeating the 2-year-old Eclipse Champion Hansen by 1¼-lengths.

Dullahan is a sire-line descendant of the Fappiano branch of Mr. Prospector and that line has produced four Derby winners: Mine That Bird (2009), Real Quiet (1998), Grindstone (1996) and Unbridled (1990). 

Mining My Own, the dam of Dullhan, is also the dam of Kentucky Derby winner Mine that Bird.

Creative Cause is a young colt I’ve liked and followed since last summer. I profiled him in my 2012 Kentucky Derby Outlook as a young colt with a lot of talent and he’s lived up to that finishing in money in all of the big stakes races on the west coast.

Creative Cause is a sire-line descendant of Northern Dancer and his sire, Giant’s Causeway, was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old (all at 7-furlongs) – winning the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes. As a 3-year-old, Giant’s Causeway was 6-4-0 in 10 starts, winning from 7- to 10-furlongs, and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.  

If Creative Cause runs to the form of his previous races, he could easily hit the board or, maybe, win the Derby. 

Went The Day Well at 20-1 morning line odds is an interesting long shot and I like what my friend Kerry Thomas said about him in the online magazine Kentucky Confidential.

Went The Day Well comes into the Derby with a win in the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) and he’s owned and trained by the same connections of the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

Went The Day Well is also a sire-line descendant of Mr. Prospector and with Proud Citizen as his sire and Tiznow as his damsire, the classic distance of 10-furlongs should not be a problem.

Went The Day Well is bred on the Mr. Prospector/Tiznow-Man o War nick and that nick produced the classic champions Smarty Jones, Real Quiet and Commendable.

I don’t feel as strongly about Went The Day Well as I did with Animal Kingdom but he appears to maturing at the right time of year and another move forward off his win in the Spiral would make him very competitive in the Derby.

Good luck with your picks!