Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez will ride Daddy Nose Best for trainer Steve Asmussen in the Kentucky Derby on May 5,
agent Tony Matos said Sunday morning via phone from Kentucky.
“We wouldn’t trade places with anybody,” said Matos, who has
represented riders who accounted for six Derby triumphs under his
tutelage. “There will be a lot of speed in the Derby and Daddy Nose Best
can get the mile and a quarter. We’re very excited to be riding for
That breaking news shortly before noon freed up Mike Smith to
ride Bodemeister in the Run for the Roses. After some last-minute
shuffling and frequent cell phone calls, agent Brad Pegram confirmed
that Smith did indeed have the mount on Bodemeister. The 46-year-old
Hall of Fame rider, who last Saturday at Santa Anita posted career win
No. 5,000, rode Bodemeister for the first time yesterday in the $1
million Arkansas Derby, winning by a jaw-dropping 9 ½ lengths.
Rafael Bejarano had ridden the son of Empire Maker in his
previous three starts, but was on Arkansas Derby runner-up Secret Circle
for Baffert yesterday. Bejarano has ridden the son of Eddington in each
of his seven starts, including victories in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Sprint, a division of Southwest Stakes, and the Rebel.
Smith had been on record as the rider of Daddy Nose Best for the
Derby, but left the door open about his Derby mount in a post-Arkansas
Derby interview with Jay Privman on CNBC. With Gomez on Daddy Nose
Best, winner of the $800,000, Grade III Sunland Park Derby, Smith and
Pegram were free to pursue the Derby mount on Bodemeister.
Earlier Sunday morning, the racing world was on pins and needles
awaiting word on who would ride Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby. But
that didn’t include Bob Baffert.
Addressing the smashing win by Bodemeister, named for Baffert’s seven-year-old son, Bode (BO-dee), Baffert said:
“He ran like he did when he broke his maiden (winning by 9 ¼
lengths at Santa Anita going one mile on Feb. 11). He was relaxed. His
last race (second by three-quarters of a length to Creative Cause in the
San Felipe Stakes on March 10 after leading into the stretch), he sort
of fell apart going to the gate, he got hot; he was a mess. Yesterday he
was pretty calm, cool and relaxed. He did everything very
At this point, Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner,
plans to ship Bodemeister and Secret Circle to Kentucky, along with
CashCall Futurity winner Liaison, whose recent races have been
disappointing. All three have more than enough graded earnings to draw
into the Derby field, which is limited to 20 starters based on money
gleaned in graded stakes races.
“We’ll train them at Churchill Downs and see what happens,” Baffert
Asked if he would be on hand for the Derby in light of recent
travel restrictions due to his heart attack, Baffert answered in typical
fashion with a rhetorical question:
“Does a frog have an a—hole that’s watertight?”
We’ll take the amphibious response as an affirmative.