Derby Hopefuls Bodemeister, Secret Circle Settle in at Churchill Downs

Apr 17, 2012 Travers Manley

The top-two finishers in last Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (Grade I) at Oaklawn Park arrived at Churchill Downs in good order Monday afternoon to continue their preparations for the 138th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), which is to be run beneath the Twin Spires on Saturday, May 5.

Zayat Stables LLC’s Bodemeister, the 9 ½-length winner of the Arkansas Derby in just his fourth career start, spent his first morning at Churchill Downs walking the shedrow of Barn 33. The bay son of Empire Maker then returned to Stall 28 full of energy.

“Bodemeister is sharp,” assistant trainer Peter Hutton said. “He’s loaded with energy and has been bucking and kicking in his stall. He’s in great shape.”

Bodemeister, named after trainer Bob Baffert’s son Bode, will attempt to become the first Kentucky Derby winner to have not raced as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882. He was second in his career debut at Santa Anita in January prior to a 9 ¼-length romp in a one mile maiden special weight at the same track. In his stakes debut, Bodemeister finished second behind another top Kentucky Derby contender Creative Cause in the San Felipe (GII).

Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Secret Circle, second behind his stablemate in the Arkansas Derby, also walked the shedrow Tuesday morning. Winner of the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, which took place over the Churchill Downs oval, Secret Circle captured the Southwest (GIII) and Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park prior to his runner-up effort in the Arkansas Derby.

“Both colts are doing very well,” Hutton said. “There’s a chance that they will walk one more day, but more than likely they will both jog tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Two horses from the Baffert barn that did visit the track Tuesday were Peachtree Stable’s Mamma Kimbo, who will be pointed to the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (GI) on Friday, May 4 after her victory in the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park, and Gillian Campbell, R Group Management Ltd. and Greenwood Lodge Farm’s Jemima’s Pearl, who was third behind her stablemate in the Fantasy.

“The fillies are both doing really well,” Hutton said. “Everything is good.”

Hutton noted that while training plans have not been finalized at this time, he expects each horse to have just one work at Churchill Downs prior to making his or her next start. The works are expected to take place between April 27-29.

ON FIRE BABY ARRIVES FOR KENTUCKY OAKS BID Anita Cauley’s homebred On Fire Baby, who became just the seventh filly to complete the Pocahontas-Golden Rod double at Churchill Downs in the fall, arrived back at her Louisville home Monday afternoon and was settled in at Gary Hartlage’s Barn 37 in the first stall Tuesday morning. 

On Fire Baby, a gray daughter of Smoke Glacken, walked the shedrow Tuesday morning and is scheduled to jog prior to the renovation break on Wednesday.

“She shipped well and she’s doing well,” Hartlage said. “She’ll go to the track tomorrow (Wednesday) to jog.”

On Fire Baby began her 3-year-old campaign against males and finished third as the favorite behind Junebugred and Reckless Jerry in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park. She rebounded from that effort to take the Honeybee (GIII) by two lengths. Hartlage said On Fire Baby will most likely work sometime this weekend, but is unsure of the exact day.

“It’s going to depend on the weather and how she trains her first couple of days on the track,” Hartlage said.

Bred in Kentucky, On Fire Baby is a half-sister to High Heels, who captured the Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn prior to finishing third to eventual Belmont Stakes (GI) winner Rags to Riches in the Kentucky Oaks (GI). Hartlage has thought highly of On Fire Baby since the day she came into his barn.

'She just keeps getting better,” Hartlage said. “She’s going to be one of the top horses all year long.”

BARN TALK – Expected to arrive at Churchill Downs from Keeneland on Tuesday between 5-5:30 p.m. (ET) is the Larry Jones-trained trio of Kentucky Derby (GI) hopeful Mark Valeski, Kentucky Oaks (GI) hopeful Believe You Can and reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, who is being pointed to the $300,000-added La Troienne Presented by Steelcase (GII) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard on May 4. The three horses will be stabled in Barn 35. …

Donegal Racing’s Dullahan visited the track Tuesday morning for the first time since his victory in the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland. Dullahan, a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, jogged a mile around the Churchill Downs oval at 9:20 a.m. He is expected to breeze on April 28 in what will be his final major training move in preparation for the Derby. …

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Sabercat arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday afternoon following a flight from Arkansas that included Bodemeister and Secret. He will be stabled in Barn 38 for trainer Steve Asmussen. …

Trainer Hamilton Smith reported that Illinois Derby (GIII) winner Done Talking will breeze at Laurel Park on April 21 and April 28 and then van to Churchill Downs on April 29. The Skeedattle Stable-owned colt will be ridden by Sheldon Russell in Kentucky Derby 138. …

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin reported Godolphin Stable LLC’s Alpha galloped Tuesday morning at Belmont Park and his leg infection is under control. The Wood Memorial runner-up could ship to Churchill Downs as early as the end of the week; however, he could arrive as late as April 30. …

Bill Cubbedge and Mike Lauffer’s Shackleford, winner of last year’s Preakness (GI) and most recently third in the Carter (GI) at Aqueduct, will make his next start in the $400,000-added Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (GII) on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard according to Baldemar Bahena, assistant trainer to Dale Romans. …

Fred Bradley, Buff Bradley, Carl Hurst and Brent BurnsGroupie Doll, who captured the Vinery Madison (GI) at Keeneland on April 12, will make her next start in the $300,000-added Humana Distaff (GI) on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard according to trainer Buff Bradley.

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at

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