1) I’ll Have Another – (1st by 1 ½) This horse has a hard time earning respect. He is undefeated on fast dirt, undefeated around two-turns, and undefeated in 2012 (in three tough races.) Yet he still managed to go off as the 15-1 ninth choice in the Kentucky Derby. Yours truly was among those who did not quite believe. I said he was for real after the Santa Anita Derby, but still could not find myself truly believing that he could do it in Kentucky, especially from the 19 post. Well, he did, and he did it impressively. He’s bred to run all day, he’s still fresh, and after yesterday, I would have to say he is tractable. In fact, I believe the ability to relax back in 7th place early was what won him the race. Of course, the great trip did not hurt a bit, but give him all the credit for being push button enough to make life easy for rider Mario Gutierrez. Assuming Bodemeister is in the Preakness, I’ll Have Another will not be the favorite once again, but that clearly does not stop him from winning everything he enters this year. He has as good a shot as any to win again in two weeks.
2) Bodemeister – (2nd by 1 ½) The talent was there, a blind man could see that, but what Bodemeister did yesterday is worthy of all the praise he is currently receiving. You don’t see horses run 1:09 and change and almost win the Derby anymore. He is reported to have come out of his near wire-to-wire virtuoso in great shape. I’m sure there will be the thought of resting him after the big performance, but this horse needs to be in the Preakness, doesn’t he? The condition on the Churchill Downs track, fast and speed favoring, did not hurt him one bit, but a repeat performance in the Preakness could well be enough to reach the winner’s circle. Much will depend on how much early speed is in Baltimore in my mind, but look for him to be the favorite to turn the tables in the Middle Jewel.
3) Dullahan – (3rd by 1 ¾) My Kentucky Derby selection ran a very good race, but not good enough. His only excuse is that he had to run widest of all on the far turn, but that has to be expected from a one-run horse. Maybe if Bodemeister had been pressured more early, or maybe if the track had been a little more friendly to late closers, his late kick would have packed a little more punch, but in truth, he was only 4th best yesterday. My guess is his connections may decide to wait for the Belmont, but as well as he ran yesterday, I hope they bring him back in the Preakness. Like the entire top 4, he is clearly thriving physically at the right time.
4) Went the Day Well – (4th by 2 ½) Speaking of physically thriving, this is one horse who ran as good as he looks. After having some trouble early in the race, he was left with way too much to do in the stretch run. Despite that, he kept trying and was clearly running the best the last quarter mile, and was actually second not long after the finish line. Coming out of only one stakes race, and against much weaker competition in the Spiral Stakes, this was a huge step-up effort. He should be on to the Preakness, where he now must be considered one of the horses to beat.
5) Creative Cause – (5th by 3) Much like all of his races, Creative Cause ran a solid race in the Kentucky Derby. He was forced out a bit on the far turn, but had every chance at the head of the stretch. He simply was not as good as the winner from there. Considering the consistency of his performances from the beginning, this one deserves another chance or two along the Triple Crown trail.
6) Liaison – (6th by 7) In the middle of the pack early, he made up some ground on the far turn just inside of Creative Cause, and ran on decently to hold on to sixth place over a fast finishing Union Rags. Liaison probably did just enough to earn a trip to Baltimore.
7) Union Rags – (7th by 7 ½) Was this year’s unlucky loser. He broke half a step slow, and from there, he had very little go right. Being squeezed soon after the start, trapped down on the rail, and heavy traffic on the far turn, all conspired to leave with him no chance to win the Kentucky Derby as the second choice. He rallied admirably to just miss 6th place, making me wonder what might have been. Not sure if they will decide to go to the Preakness or the Belmont next, but if you liked him going in, there was nothing there to lose one ounce of faith in this talented horse.
8) Rousing Sermon – (8th by 8 ¼) Grabbed a good position in the back half of the field early, and made a steady, but non-threatening rally from the rail to finish 8th of 20. I would not expect to see him in Baltimore.
9) Hansen – (9th by 10 ¼) It was an interesting choice to see Hansen somewhat held back from the top two spots early, but an understandable one considering the fractions. He was clearly headstrong going into the first turn, which probably helped to take something out of him. He kept trying but simply could not keep up with Bodemeister after the first quarter mile. Good chance that Doc Hansen gives him another shot in the Preakness, which could drastically change the outlook of the race, especially if they decide to cut him free early.
10) Daddy Nose Best – (10th by 11 ½) A few bumps here and there, but overall, no real excuse for the wiseguy horse of the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
11) Optimizer – (11th by 12) Down on the inside most of the race, Optimizer finished with some interest, but never looked to make serious noise. A turf race would make more sense, but do not be surprised to see Lukas push him further down the Triple Crown road.
12) Alpha – (12th by 19 ¼) Was in the middle of the pack early, and never displayed any sign of interest from there. He looked hot and may have expended too much of his energy in the paddock and the lead-up to the race.
13) El Padrino – (13th by 20) Broke a bit slow, and was last for much of the early part of the race. He did show interest in coming on from the far turn, but traffic and a sound bumping sealed his fate of only passing seven tired horses.
14) Done Talking – (14th by 23 ½) Too slow going in, and too slow coming out.
15) Sabercat – (15th by 24 ¾) Went a little wide on the first turn, and made a bit of a move on the backstretch, but had little left for the stretch run.
16) Gemologist – (16th by 30) After breaking well and grabbing good early position, the lone undefeated runner going in, showed little and defeated only four horses in the most disappointing performance of the field.
17) Trinniberg – (17th by 31 ½) As expected, he showed a strong amount of speed to be closest to Bodemeister early before fading when the real running began on the far turn. He should return to the sprinting game from here.
18) Prospective – (18th by 34 ½) Any chance at all was lost in the opening furlong when he clipped heels and almost went down. From there he showed little and could only best a pair of horses struggling physically.
19) Take Charge Indy – (19th by 50) Had a good position close to the early pace from the inside, but gradually faded to the back of the pack. He was reported to have been sore after the race and X-rays have revealed a bone chip in his ankle.
20) Daddy Long Legs – (20th - eased) Had early speed, but the Irish invader wilted under the Kentucky Derby and Louisville heat.