Zayat Stables LLC and Southern Equine Stables’ Bodemeister, the smashing 9 ½-length winner of the Arkansas Derby (Grade I) in his most recent start, and Chadds Ford Stable’s Union Rags, winner of the Champagne (GI) and two other graded stakes, head an overflow field of 21 entered Wednesday for Saturday’s 138th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
With 20 starters, the purse for the Kentucky Derby will be $2,219,600 with $1,459,600 going to the winner. The Kentucky Derby will be carried by NBC Sports with a three-hour telecast from 4-7 p.m. (all times Eastern).
Post time for the Run for the Roses is 6:24 p.m. and the race will go as the 11th contest on the 13-race program that begins at 10:30 a.m. In addition to the Kentucky Derby, five otheikr graded stakes will highlight the undercard.
Early forecasts call for temperatures in the mid 80s with a chance of isolated thunderstorms.
Bodemeister, the morning-line favorite at 4-1, and Union Rags, the second choice at 9-2, are two of nine Grade I winners in the field that also features three Grade II winners and six Grade III winners that will break from the gate Saturday afternoon.
Trained by three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert, Bodemeister did not make his racing debut until this January when he finished second in his initial try. Following a maiden win, Bodemeister ran second in the San Felipe to Derby rival Creative Cause and then crushed his Arkansas Derby rivals.
Mike Smith, who won the 2005 Kentucky Derby on Giacomo, has the mount on Bodemeister, who will break from post position six.
Michael Matz, who saddled Barbaro to his Kentucky Derby victory in 2006, trains Union Rags, who comes into the Run for the Roses off a troubled third-place finish in the Florida Derby (GI). Runner-up to Derby rival Hansen in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) here last fall, Union Rags will be ridden by Julien Leparoux and break from post position four.
Hansen will attempt to become the first 2-year-old champion to come back the following spring and win the Kentucky Derby since Street Sense in 2007. Owned by Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing and trained by Mike Maker, Hansen comes into the Derby off a runner-up finish in last month’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) at Keeneland. Ramon Dominguez has the mount on Hansen, listed at 10-1 on the morning line and who will break from post position 14.
The other Grade I winners in the field are Donegal Racing’s Dullahan (Toyota Blue Grass), Heinz Steinmann’s Creative Cause (Norfolk), WinStar Farm’s Gemologist (Wood Memorial), Chuck and Maribeth Sandford’s Take Charge Indy (Florida Derby), J. Paul Reddam’s I’ll Have Another (Santa Anita Derby) and Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison (CashCall Futurity).
Grade II winners in the field are U.A.E. Derby victor Daddy Long Legs, owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, John Oxley’s Prospective (Tampa Bay Derby) and Let’s Go Stable’s El Padrino (Risen Star).
The Grade III winners slated to go postward Saturday afternoon are Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Sabercat (Delta Jackpot), Cathy and Bob Zollars’ Daddy Nose Best (Sunland Derby and El Camino Real Derby), Godolphin Racing’s Alpha (Withers), Shivananda Racing’s Trinniberg (Bay Shore and Swale), Skeedattle Stable’s Done Talking (Illinois Derby) and Team Valor International and Mark Ford’s Went the Day Well (Spiral).
In addition to Baffert and Matz, three other trainers will be trying to get another whiff of the roses: Graham Motion, Todd Pletcher and D. Wayne Lukas.
Motion, who saddled Animal Kingdom to victory last year, will send out Went the Day Well. A victory Saturday would make Motion, Team Valor and jockey John Velazquez the first trainer-owner-jockey team to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbys since 1972-73 when Riva Ridge and Secretariat won for Meadow Stable under Ron Turcotte for trainer Lucien Laurin.
Pletcher, who will send out Gemologist and El Padrino, claimed his initial Kentucky Derby victory in 2010 with Super Saver for WinStar.
Lukas, who will send out Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer, is a four-time Kentucky Derby winner. His victories came with Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996) and Charismatic (1999).
In addition to Velazquez, two other riders will be seeking to enhance their Kentucky Derby resumes: Calvin Borel and Kent Desormeaux, both three-time Derby winners.
Borel, who will ride Take Charge Indy, captured the roses in 2007 with Street Sense, 2009 with Mine That Bird and 2010 with Super Saver.
Desormeaux, who has the mount on Dullahan, got his Kentucky Derby wins in 1998 with Real Quiet, 2000 with Fusaichi Pegasus and in 2008 with Big Brown.
The field for the 138th Kentucky Derby, from the rail out with morning line odds, is as follows: Daddy Long Legs (Colm O’Donoghue, 30-1), Optimizer (Jon Court, 50-1), Take Charge Indy (Calvin Borel, 15-1), Union Rags (Julien Leparoux, 9-2), Dullahan (Kent Desormeaux, 8-1), Bodemeister (Mike Smith, 4-1), Rousing Sermon (Jose Lezcano, 50-1), Creative Cause (Joel Rosario, 12-1), Trinniberg (Willie Martinez, 50-1), Daddy Nose Best (Garrett Gomez, 15-1), Alpha (Rajiv Maragh, 15-1), Prospective (Luis Contreras, 30-1), Went the Day Well (John Velazquez, 20-1), Gemologist (Javier Castellano, 6-1), El Padrino (Rafael Bejarano, 20-1), Done Talking (Sheldon Russell, 50-1), Sabercat (Corey Nakatani, 30-1), I’ll Have Another (Mario Gutierrez, 12-1) and Liaison (Martin Garcia, 50-1). Also Eligible: My Adonis (Elvis Trujillo, 50-1). All starters will carry 126 pounds.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.