Bodemeister shoots to Kentucky Derby favouritism in Arkansas DerbyPICTURE: Getty Images
Bodemeister brilliant for Baffert in Arkansas
Report: USA, Saturday
Oaklawn Park: Arkansas Derby (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
AT last an explosive performance in a major Kentucky Derby trial as the lightly raced Bodemeister (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith) led home a one-two for his trainer with a runaway victory in Arkansas.
Having the fourth start of his life, Bodemeister was totally dominant in the $1 million event, won in recent years by subsequent Classic winners Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex and Curlin.
He is now 5-1 favourite for the Kentucky Derby with British bookmakers Coral.
Breaking alertly from the outside post in a field of 11, Bodemeister led into the first turn and went on to lead throughout, setting legitimate fractions before spurting clear a furlong out to score by nine and a half lengths over his stablemate Secret Circle. Sabercat got the best of a photo-finish for third.
Sent off 12-5 favourite, Bodemeister now looks a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby on May 5 after such an emphatic display in the last of the five Grade 1 trials.
Zayat Stable's son of Belmont winner Empire Maker, who is named after Baffert's youngest son, stopped the clock in 1min 48.71sec for the 1m1f.
"That was an exciting win, so impressive," said Baffert, speaking to the Daily Racing Form. "When he broke his maiden he ran a race like that and he had been working really well at Santa Anita."
Bodemeister will now bid to become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced at two. "He's a legitimate contender," added Baffert. "I was really impressed myself. We were hoping he'd do something like that."
Also on Saturday
Oaklawn Park: Oaklawn Hcap (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 4yo+
An all-the-way victory over a strong field for Alternation (Donnie von Hemel/Luis Quinonez), who was allowed to set easy fractions in this $400,000 contest before a two-and-a-half-length victory over Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron The Greek.
>>Elsewhere on Oaklawn's premier card, trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Corey Nakatani teamed up for a five-timer.
Charles Town: Charles Town Classic (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 4yo+
Uncle Mo's owner Mike Repole enjoyed the trip from New York to West Virginia as Caixa Eletronica (Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano) stepped up in trip to take this $1m event.
Having sat in mid-division, he was moved out on the final turn before willingly going past last year's winner Duke Of Mischief, whom he beat three lengths into second.