Bob Baffert, the trainer of Bodemeister and Secret Circle is seeking his first win in the Arkansas Derby. The Arkansas Derby is the 11th on a 12-race program on Saturday with a 5:45 p.m. CDT post. CNBC, TVG and HRTV will televise the race.
Zayat Stables’ lightly raced Bodemeister, to be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith, is coming off a narrow runner-up finish to Creative Cause in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park March 10. Light on graded earnings with $60,000, Bodemeister needs a victory to be completely assured of a starting berth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby on May 5.
Secret Circle, who races for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, has won five of six lifetime starts, his only loss coming in a runner-up finish in Santa Anita’s Sham Stakes on Jan. 7. Rafael Bejarano, who has been aboard the bay colt in all of his races, retains the mount.
Secret Circle’s $470,000 in graded earnings put him 11th on the Kentucky Derby eligibility list. “Secret Circle has been getting the distance so far,” said Baffert. “He hasn’t shown me he can’t get it – they can all get it until they show you they can’t.”
“This’ll be a good race with some nice horses in there,” he continued. “I think Bodemeister will be tough. These are two really good horses and even though I don’t like to get ahead of myself, it’s always special just to have a horse that has a chance in the Kentucky Derby, so hopefully we wind up with one of those on Saturday.”
After four consecutive sub-par performances beginning with an eighth-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, Optimizer woke up with a big effort in the Rebel for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Jon Court, who has won the past two renewals of the Arkansas Derby, retains the mount on Optimizer, who drew post 7. Optimizer has won once in eight lifetime starts.
Like Baffert, trainer Todd Pletcher will have two shots in this year’s Arkansas Derby with Stat and Raconteur.
Stat is coming off a win at Gulfstream Park on March 17. Stat has won two of four lifetime starts and was second in last summer’s Saratoga Special. John Velazquez is aboard once more.
Other contenders in this year’s Arkansas Derby are Cozzetti, Isn’t He Clever, Sabercat, Jake Mo, Najjar, and Atigun.
Post Position. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Cozzetti (KY), J Lezcano, 118, D L Romans, 15/1
2. Stat (KY), J R Velazquez, 118, T A Pletcher, 10/1
3. Najjaar (KY), C H Borel, 118, D C Peitz, 15/1
4. Jake Mo (KY), M C Berry, 122, A Milligan, 30/1
5. Secret Circle (KY), R Bejarano, 122, B Baffert, 5/2
6. Isn’t He Clever (KY), R Albarado, 122, H Dominguez, 6/1 Blinkers off
7. Optimizer (KY), J K Court, 118, D W Lukas, 30/1
8. Atigun (KY), T J Thompson, 118, K G McPeek, 30/1
9. Sabercat (KY), C S Nakatani, 122, S M Asmussen, 15/1
10. Raconteur (KY), C P DeCarlo, 122, T A Pletcher, 15/1
11. Bodemeister (VA), M E Smith, 118, B Baffert, 9/5 Blinkers off
Tags: 2012 Arkansas Derby, 2012 Kentucky Derby, Atigun, Bob Baffert, Bodemeister, Calvin Borel, Churchill Downs, Corey Nakatani, Cozzetti, Creative Cause, D. Wayne Lucas, HRTV, Isn't He Clever, Jake Mo, John Velasquez, Jon Court, Kentucky Derby, Mike Smith, Najjar, Optimizer, Raconteur, Rafael Bejarano, Robby Albarado, Sabercat, Secret Circle, Stat, TVG