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Bodemeister skipping Belmont, Creative Cause '50-50' for race

  • Bodemeister is going home to regroup (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

After another agonizingly tough loss to I'll Have Another in Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, Bodemeister was flown back to California Sunday morning. He will remain in training, but will skip the Belmont Stakes.

"I've had enough," Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert quipped.

Baffert indicated that Bodemeister appeared to be in good condition before leaving the Pimlico Stakes Barn for Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

"He was actually pretty happy today," Baffert said. "He ate up, got on a plane and headed back to California. He came out of it really well."

Bodemeister set the pace in the Derby and the Preakness and each time I'll Have Another managed to catch and pass him near the finish line. The Empire Maker colt, who captured the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths prior to his Derby and Preakness runs, turned in gallant performances in defeat.

"He's a pretty amazing animal," Baffert said. "He didn't act tired. After the race, he came back to the barn and he wasn't as tired as he was after the Derby."

Baffert said I'll Have Another and Bodemeister showed in the Derby and the Preakness that they are at the top of a talented crop of three-year-olds.

"They are two really good horses," he said. "On any given year they could probably win those races. It was a tough year."

While Bodemeister won't take part in the third jewel of the Triple Crown, Baffert said that the Paynter might start in the Belmont Stakes. The bay son of Awesome Again romped by 5 3/4 lengths in the 4TH race, a 1 1/16-mile allowance, on Saturday at Pimlico, and was shipped to Belmont Park Sunday morning.

"We're going to train him there," Baffert said. "If it looks like he snapped out of his race, we'll run him in the Belmont if he looks really good."

Paynter has raced just four times in his career thus far, breaking his maiden at Santa Anita in February before running fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby behind I'll Have Another and second in the Grade 3 Derby Trial Stakes at Churchill Downs on April 28.

Creative Cause boarded a van Sunday morning following a third-place finish in Preakness 137 to head for Baltimore-Washington International Airport for a scheduled 9 a.m. (EDT) flight back to Los Angeles and his home base of Hollywood Park.

"He came out of the race OK," said trainer Mike Harrington minutes before putting the son of Giant's Causeway on the van. "Back to California, regroup."

Harrington surprised some observers when he sent Creative Cause home after his fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, before bringing him back to Pimlico the following week for the Preakness. He said he is now contemplating one more cross-country venture to compete in the Belmont Stakes.

"I'd say right now it's 50-50," said Harrington, who was scheduled to get on a flight Sunday evening with assistant/exercise rider John Cisneros for the trip home.

"He ran his heart out," Cisneros said. "He didn't have any trouble at all. He ran hard, and I thought he was going to win it. Today he was very alert and happy. Actually he was jumping up and down when he was walking."

The Belmont would be Creative Cause's sixth race midway through his sophomore season. His only win this year came in the Grade 2 San Felipe in March, but the gray colt's Derby fifth has been his only off-the-board run in 10 career starts.

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