Baffert to send out Liaison and Bodemeister
in $300,000 grade 2 event
Trainer Bob Baffert will send out Liaison and Bodemeister in Saturday’s $300,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. Baffert, who has saddled the winners of nine Triple Crown races, had planned to enter Fed Biz as well, but that promising youngster had a setback this week.
To replace Fed Biz in the starting gate, Baffert has turned to Bodemeister, an Empire Maker colt named after Baffert’s youngest son, Bode (pronounced Bodee). Bodemeister’s name did not even appear among the original 139 nominees to the San Felipe or the Santa Anita Derby.
Owned by Zayat Stables, Bodemeister did not begin his career until running second in a 5 ½-furlong maiden event on Jan. 16. But when he stretched out to one mile on Feb. 11, the $260,000 auction purchase looked sensational. He ran the distance in 1:34 2/5, won by 9 ¼ lengths, and earned a robust Beyer speed rating of 101.
“Bodemeister looked pretty damn impressive,” he said. “I’m sort of surprised by what he did, but this is the time of year that we want horses to surprise us. We were a little late getting him going, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’ve never seen a slow, fit, seasoned 3-year-old win the Derby. You still have to have that talent.”
Yet no matter how much talent Bodemeister may possess, winning the Kentucky Derby off four career starts will prove a stern test. No horse who did not race as a 2-year-old has won the Derby since Apollo in 1882. And only one horse, Big Brown, has done so with four starts or less since Exterminator in 1918.
Arnold Zetcher’s Liaison, who has earned $469,560 from 3 wins in 5 starts including last December’s Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, is seeking a return to his best form following a disastrous outing in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 4 in which he dumped the rider in the stretch after getting squeezed between horses.
Photo courtesy of Santa Anita Park/Benoit photo