Zayat Stables’ Bodemeister turned in an impressive performance in wiring the field in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park and stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby (G1) in the process.
Ridden by Mike Smith, Bodemeister assumed command shortly after the break from his far outside post. Smith deftly guided him over to the rail around the first turn and the pair led the procession down the backstretch.
Bodemeister appeared well within himself through fractions of 23.02, 46.55 and 1:11.36. At the head of the lane, Bodemeister opened up on the field. Just when it appeared his stablemate Secret Circle was going to make a race of it circling up three wide, Bodemeister kicked into another gear. He hit the wire 9 ½ lengths clear of Secret Circle, who edged Sabercat for the place spot. Bodemeister covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.71.
“I was out front by about a length or so and I set him down just in case anyone was coming,” Smith told Oaklawn Publicity. “I looked up on the board and I was like seven in front. That was ultra impressive.”
Bred in Virginia by Audley Farm Inc., Bodemeister is a son of Empire Maker out of the graded stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Untouched Talent. He is a Keeneland September sale graduate. In his previous start, Bodemeister finished second, beaten less than a length by Creative Cause, in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. Unraced at two, Bodemeister broke his maiden on Feb. 11 at Santa Anita.
Bodemeister’s victory capped off a sensational stand for trainer Bob Baffert. In addition to Bodemeister, he sent out stakes winners Castaway, Secret Circle, Mamma Kimbo and Plum Pretty during the Oaklawn meet.