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Mike Smith to Stick with Bodemeister in Kentucky Derby


Jockey Garrett Gomez will ride Daddy Nose Best  in the Kentucky Derby on May 5, agent Tony Matos said Sunday, according to Santa Anita Publicity, and not surprisingly, Mike Smith will stick with Bodemeister.

That breaking news shortly before noon freed up Mike Smith to ride Bodemeister in the Run for the Roses. After some last-minute shuffling and frequent cell phone calls, agent Brad Pegram confirmed that Smith did indeed have the mount on Bodemeister.

Rafael Bejarano had ridden the son of Empire Maker in his previous three starts, but was on Arkansas Derby runner-up Secret Circle for Baffert yesterday. Bejarano has ridden the son of Eddington in each of his seven starts, including victories in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, a division of Southwest Stakes, and the Rebel.

Smith had been on record as the rider of Daddy Nose Best for the Derby, but left the door open about his Derby mount in a post-Arkansas Derby interview with Jay Privman on CNBC.

Addressing the smashing win by Bodemeister, named for Baffert’s seven-year-old son, Bode (BO-dee), Baffert said:

“He ran like he did when he broke his maiden (winning by 9 ¼ lengths at Santa Anita going one mile on Feb. 11). He was relaxed. His last race (second by three-quarters of a length to Creative Cause in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10 after leading into the stretch), he sort of fell apart going to the gate, he got hot; he was a mess. Yesterday he was pretty calm, cool and relaxed. He did everything very professionally.”

At this point, Baffert, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, plans to ship Bodemeister and Secret Circle to Kentucky, along with CashCall Futurity winner Liaison, whose recent races have been disappointing. All three have more than enough graded earnings to draw into the Derby field, which is limited to 20 starters based on money earned in graded stakes races.

“We’ll train them at Churchill Downs and see what happens,” Baffert said.

Santa Anita Park Publicity contributed to this report.

Bodemeister/Coady photo