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!


  1. Good to see you have a spot out here in the blog hemisphere! I feel a little better knowing we are liking the same horses this year. I slightly downgraded I'LL HAVE ANOTHER due to the first time Derby jockey having to negotiate a trip from the 19 post. I love BODEMEISTER but fear he will have the Hard Spun trip. Run the speed off their feet and get caught late. WENT THE DAY WELL I like along with CREATIVE CAUSE, DADDY NOSE BEST, DULLAHAN and GEMOLOGIST. Whoever gets the cleanest trip wins this one.


  2. I'm a bit puzzled Calvin. I could have sworn you would have been enamored with Union Rags, especially because of the hidden stamina/endurance influences (showing up in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations) in the damside breeding, many who won at a mile and a quarter or beyond, and who produced progeny, that relished races of classic distances. Flaring Top, Hyperion, Bull Page, Northern Dancer, Flaming Page, Hogh Hat, Glad Rags, Nijinsky II, Mr. Prospector, Terpsichorist. I sincerely believe that Michael Matz and Peter Brette recognized early on in Rags' career, the kind of horse that they were dealing with and the potential that lay ahead. I have nothing but praise for the connections, who have demonstrated incredible patience in bringing their horse along, and up to the Kentucky Derby. I heard well before the Florida Derby of Rags, that the connections were not looking to win the race. They didn't want him to peak too soon. They had been preparing for this current race for a very, very long time, which just happens to be quiet the opposite for the vast majority of the entrants who have had to fight to get there, and who may have compromised their chances by having expended so much, in otder to get to this race. Sorry, I don't like Bodemeister at all. I usually like Baffert horses but, not what he's doing with this one. The horse is relatively inexperienced, just 4 races, no starts as a 2 year-old, no real underlying foundation, other than the races that he's essentially been "winging it." He's coming back on three weeks rest from the Arkansas Derby in which he faced very little in the way of competition, and put in a final eighth in sub 12 seconds, never a good thing. Remember how Jeremy Rose rode Afleet Alex in that same Arkansas Derby, prior to Alex's Kentucky Derby? I have not one iota of doubt, that what was done cost the horse winning every single leg of the Triple Crown ..... a simple mistake but, it had monumental implications later on. I see a great deal of speed in this year's Kentucky Derby, which will compromise Bodemeister's chances to have things all his own way on the front end, and I don't think he has enough maturity/a foundation to be able handle the something else, especially in what occurs in this particular race so often.

    And by the way, did you watch Union Rags' Juvenile Breeders Cup race? Did you watch it closely? I hadn't seen it at all last year, and only watched it for the first time three weeks ago. It is an absolutely amazing performance and, I'll share with you several of my observations about it. It is abundantly clear that he loves the Churchill Downs racetrack. It was the first time he a) ran on it, b) the first time he ran in a race that involved two turns, c) gave away so much ground to the other horses because the wide trip he was given. And, if that wasn't enough? d) in deep stretch - after having made the appropriate lead change entering the stretch of the race, he switches back to his wrong lead (not that ususual in my experience for young inexperienced horses running two turn races for their first time). But, that isn't the end of the story, by far. The jockey realized what happened. He "shakes Rags up," getting him back on the lead he should be on. Rags makes up a great amount of ground on the leader (Hansen) in a very short amount of time that is left, and just misses catching the other horse by a scant head. I believe Redemption Day is Saturday. I value your opinion and your thoughts but, I believe Rags is a special horse that has been nurtured and handled impeccably well and, who's remarkable talent will be bursting forth on Saturday.

    P.S. - I just got your and Kerry's great book, "Horse Profiling." I can't wait to start reading it. Congratulations!!!

  3. Caymon01,

    Thanks for the commentary and for following the blog. Good luck today.

  4. August Song,

    Thank you for following the blog and buying our book. I always appreciate hearing from my blog readers.

    Union Rags is, definitely, a talented colt and if he wins the Derby, I'll be rooting for him to win the other two legs of the Triple Crown.

    He does have some nice influence, especially in the distaff pedigree. But he never quite "WOWED" me on the track and that is also an important factor I look at in addition to the pedigree.

    If Union Rags wins it will be interesting from a pedigree perspective as his grandsire Dixieland Band has been good classic influence as a damsire of Monarchos and Street Sense.

    Thanks you for following the blog and the commentary.

  5. You are phenomenal, Calvin. To be so right on the money so consistently in these hardest-to-handicap races puts you in the highest echelon of handicappers.

    It must be gratifying that your obviously complex and time-intensive work results in such accurate yet unintuitive (to most, based on the prices)choices.

    More power to you, and continued success.
    I am amazed.
    -John C.

  6. Congratulations are in order! He didn't win but you selected the exacta box, box triple, and the recognition of Kerry's comments about Went The Day Well provided for a 5 horse box superfecta that only paid $48,000, truly amazing and truly good.

  7. Calvin,

    Congratulations on amother outstanding pedigree analysis of the KY Derby!!! I sure hope you put several horses on the end in your super, including Went The Day Well!!!


  8. John C, August Song, Jeanne,

    Thanks for the compliments and best wishes. Thanks for the commentary and following my blog.

    I always appreciate hearing from my blog followers - it means a lot to me.


  9. Hey Calvin,

    Jeff here from DRF blog. I haven't been on since the changeover but I just wanted to chime in with the usual "Great Job!!!" I remember how much you were into Summer Bird a few years back and the hits just keep on coming.

    I too did fairly well as I had IHA in all three Future Wagers as well as Saturday and the exacta.

    I missed out on the Lewis (loved Sky Kingdom) and thought I wouldn't get a second chance but this horse is so underrated it hurts.

    I've been calling I'll Have Another the Rodney Dangerfield of racing in my columns ever since February and he never disappoints. I was initially upset at post 19 but when El Padrino, Done Talking, and Sabercat all drew next to him, I felt much better. Then I watched other horses I liked out of outside posts (Sidney's Candy and Desert Party) and saw how easy it was for them to cross over and it made me even happier since most folks would hold post 19 against him and drive up the odds.

    I also wanted to tell you that I watched the video of you and Kerry from the restaurant. Fantastic. He did a great job, as did former Met Paul Lo Duca, who has picked two straight Derby winners as well.

    IHA's pedigree says 1 1/2 will not be a problem so the Preakness might be the one that could derail his TC hopes. Still, if Bode goes (tough call three races in five weeks) along with Hansen, and The Lumber Guy, it could set up perfectly for him to win again.

    Once again, great job and let's get a TC this year!!!


  10. Calvin
    Wow, what can I say ?...more Derby picks are spot on. Continued success may friend. I received my book the other day, and look forward to some quiet time to read it.

    Always a pleasure to stop by here and see what you're up to :)

    SR Vegas

  11. Calvin!

    Great to see you in cyberspace again. I remember you from the Justin Dew blogs on Congratulations on a big day Saturday! I didn't hit anything as I landed on Gemologist and Hansen. Anyway, good luck in the Preakness. Let's go get ourselves a Triple Crown Winner!

  12. Jeff, SR Vegas and Cdpotato,

    Thanks for the compliments, best wishes and for following my blog.

    I always appreciate hearing from my readers and reading their commentary - I appreciate your contribution to the blog.

  13. Cdpotato4
    OMG , I too use to check out Justin Dew site on the site. It was when I started playing the Run to the Roses contests.
    Small world :)

    SR Vegas