Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes recap

Taylor Made Stallions
by TCI 6 years ago

Jon and Joel were at Keeneland on Saturday to witness both the Blue Grass Stakes and Hansen’s infamous “Tailgate” incident. Get their take on both, as well as their thoughts on just how good Bodemeister’s Arkansas Derby romp was. Do we have a new Derby favorite?

Watch it. Comment.

TCI Top Ten with top speed rating

Rank Name Bris Comments
1 Union Rags 103 No longer the clear Derby fave; Need to see him train well in KY
2 Bodemeister 106 A “holy cow” breakthrough win in Arkansas Derby, but was it too fast?
3 Creative Cause 107 Consistent, classy, battle-tested and possesses a good style for the Derby
4 Gemologist 104 The fact that this colt is not in the Top 3 shows how good this crop is
5 Hansen 105 A key Derby matchup will be the cruising speed of his vs. Nos. 2 & 4
6 Dullahan 102 His ability on real dirt remains a question, but Blue Grass winner is legit
7 Alpha 104 Stepped up nicely and passed a needed class test in the Wood
8 I’ll Have Another 102 California 3yos have been dominant, and he won two big preps there
9 Take Charge Indy 109 Took advantage of easy pace to win Florida Derby; Borel an obvious plus
10 El Padrino 111 Looking likelier to make Derby field, and he’ll move up this list if so

through 4/16/2012


  • Joe polander

    Joel – One thing is for sure on Derby day, You will be able to bet a star horse that has a real threat to win the race at very good odds because of the depth of the 3 yr. old crop. Was very impressed with Dullahan’s win over Hansen, and Dale Romans believes the further he runs the better. His acceleration and turn of foot are exceptional. With the likely hot Derby pace this should set up for Dullahan. He seems to have the ability to hit the hole and weave through traffic when necessary. He was not in Dead last in the Blue Grass when he made his run, Desormeaux hopefully will make sure he is not too far behind so  he can kick it in the stretch to give this muscular horse a chance. I’ve moved Dullahan up to #3 on my list. #1 Remains Creative Cause and #2 Gemologist. I’ve got Bodemeister At #5 and IHA at #4. Union Rags is much lower on my list, but this crop is so deep and Union Rags is very good, and has a legit chance to win. Very intrigued by Daddy Nose Best and Went The Day Well. 2 colts that will be at a big price that could bring home the roses at big odds. I probably will due some tweaking on my top 10 list after the workouts and after the key PP draw. Derby only 19 days away. Like you said Joel, El Padrino is very good and might make the Derby after all, we will have to wait and see on this though.

    • Joel Cunningham


      Wide open as you say…and wide open in a good way! A lot of talented horses this year. No question that bettors will get some outstanding value on a Win bet for a talented 3yo that has a real potential of winning.

      You mentioned a key thing and that is the works leading up to the Derby. To me, it’s a critical piece. Just look at last year’s winner..most who got on board with Animal Kingdom loved his final work on dirt..and many recent Derby winners have really showed their proverbial hands in workouts leading up to the race. So it will be important to follow, and I can’t wait to get to Churchill and Keeneland to start!

  • JR

    Hi Joel, can you comment on what your thoughts are about being pin fired or frozen I have read a lot about this both negative and positive and also that it just doesn’t work. I have read it is used when you don’t have the time to let the natural healing process be complete. That worries me about Dullahan and the popped splint. I can’t imagine Romans would risk this colt in any way. He performance at the Blue Grass looked great.
    Kind Regards,

    • Joel Cunningham

      JR, people have different theories on pin firing different areas of a horse’s leg. You see it most commonly in sore shins and splint bones, which are not detrimental injuries (like Dullahan’s splint…I also noticed El Padrino has been pinfired on both shins, likely from bucking undeveloped shins as a 2yo).

      The process is indeed using extreme heat (most of the time) or cooling to flow more blood to the area for accelerated healing. Dullahan’s splint wasn’t pretty, but it obviously isn’t bothering him or he wouldnt have run like he did. Romans had him ready and healthy. Obviously the splint isnt a wait-baring bone any way, but it can be very sore and bothersome to a horse and even cause them to get off of it which could compromise other legs. But not the case here as well as he ran…if it was bothering him at all he likely wouldn’t have run like that IMO.

  • JR

    Hi Joel,

    “It is tough for a lightly raced horse to come back in three weeks and run well in the Derby,” Battaglia said. He was speaking about Bodemeister your thoughts on his comment.
    Kind Regards,

    • Joel Cunningham

      JR, I think it’s logical that a lightly raced horse that just ran that big would have a hard time coming back on relatively short rest and duplicating that performance. But special horses can do it, and perhaps he’s one of those. I can think of some super 3yos in the past who ran big in the Derby and then came back to run even bigger in the Preakness just two weeks later, which should not make sense in thoery. Just seems like the really good ones can handle an extraordinary amount of things that most racehorses cannot.

      I can tell you this: Baffert’s assistant was overwhelmingly impressed by how Bode shipped into Churchill less than 48 hours removed from that huge win. He said the horse has been bucking and squealing and just looks tremendous and is feeling great.

      Everybody is aware of the Apollo curse…so history is not on Bode’s side. But Bob Baffert is on his side, and nobody gets an A+ effort on Derby day like BB. This colt may simply be the fastest horse in the race, and if he’s training at CD in the next couple of weeks like they say he’s feeling right now then watch out.

      I think a bigger issue with Bodemeister for me is that he’s a nervous natured horse. How will he react to 150,000 screaming fans and all of the pre-Derby hoopla? Will he get too hot, and/or will it make him too keen and unable to relax?

      Obviously, with Hansen and others in the race he will need to relax and rate early. That battle between these high-cruising speed colts like Hansen, Bodemeister and Gemologist down the backstretch is one of the more intriguing keys to this year’s Derby.

      • JR

         Joel, remember last year Master of Hounds, he had a real hard time with all the noise. I believe they skipped the post parade because he was acting up, from what I understand, in Europe the people don’t get as carried away as we do here.

        On another note, I really appreciate your comments and the depth you take in explaining your answers. I always to look forward to what you have to say and respect you highly.
        Kind Regards,

        • Joel Cunningham

          Thanks for the nice words JR!

          It’s always impossible to quantify what prerace distractions do to these 3yos. For example, Funny Cide threw a big fit and got hot in the paddock before the Derby…obviously, it didn’t hurt him any lol. This year, Union Rags seems like a colt with a great disposition, but even he gets very warm before many of his races…and we all remember Shackleford looking very very washed out and bothered at Pimlico before he won the Preakness. 

          So you never know really. Some horses just have their antics, and good ones seem to be able to overcome many of these things.

  • Nick

    Did you notice that the top runners in each of the five major Grade 1 Kentucky
    Derby Prep races ALL performed well without any major upsets. They all either
    won, ran 2nd or 3rd. This makes it very difficult to separate them when
    handicapping the Kentucky Derby.

    DULLAHAN, who looked incredible flying down the Keeneland stretch to catch a
    clear-in-the lead Hansen, skyrockets to the top of my list. What impressed me even more
    was, after he got past HAnsen, it seemed Dullahan had a lot more left
    in reserve

    Bodemeister may have ran his top effort
    here. It’s going to be hard to get better going longer without a good amount of
    foundation. I’m just not sure he can run better in less than 3 weeks going an
    additional eighth. Furthermore, his running style will also conflict with
    several other early speed types headed to Louisville. He looked very good in the
    Arkansas Derby, but going forward right now is questionable.

    • Joel Cunningham


      Great point about the top contenders all running well and holding up in their respective preps. You usually see some longshot winners of these big preps along with some disappointing favorites. Not the case this year, they all pretty much ran to form. Makes it all the more intriguing…

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