I’ll Have Another Wins Kentucky Derby
Tracking down a historic effort from morning line favorite Bodemeister, I'll Have Another claimed the Kentucky Derby.
When Bodemeister took the field into the stretch and opened up a five length lead, it looked as though we were watching history in the making. He'd already made some on the day - posting absurd, record-setting fractions that would have been impressive in your average sprint race - but with one quick burst, Bodemeister had left the field in his wake, and looked clear to go on to claim the Kentucky Derby in a rout.
Not many would have thought that he would be run down in deep stretch. Even less would have expected an historically front running horse with an inexperienced jockey to be the one to do it. But such was the scene at Churchill Downs on Saturday when Mario Guttierrez found himself aboard I'll Have Another and, somehow, perfectly placed among the 20 Derby contenders.
Refusing to engage the suicidal pace set by the front running Bodemeister, Gutierrez kept his horse several lengths back, but forwardly positioned in the race's second pack and with plenty of space to run onto. Standing high in the saddle, Gutierrez may have been the only one watching or riding who knew just how much horse he had. He wouldn't keep that secret long as a few strides into the stretch, and with what looked like no more than one step, the 15-1 shot exploded forward and ran down the morning line favorite to win the 138th Kentucky Derby.
Favorite Union Rags suffered his second straight unfortunate ride under the guide of Julien Leparoux. He was squeezed at the start of the race and found himself the last of 20 horses on the backstretch, and though the pace set up well for a strong closing run, the Frenchman had all but surrendered by the time the field kicked for home - keeping his horse on the rail rather than maneuvering him to the outside. He rallied for seventh, but it was a woeful performance from the colt.
The previously undefeated Gemologist suffered a similarly poor result. Despite the fact that Javier Castellano appeared to give the Todd Pletcher trainee a terrific ride, keeping him in good, striking position throughout the race, the horse failed to respond. Castellano was forced to the whip early in the second turn, but Gemologist never got revved up. He finished an unspeakably disappointing sixteenth.
Bodemeister held on to second and the Dale Romans trained Dullahan enjoyed a furious stretch run to rally for third. The results set up for an intriguing Preakness two weeks from now. I'll Have Another has now run six races in his career with four wins and one second. Perhaps there is some real class in this colt and we were unable to see it until now because his star was out shined by the brightness of those around him. Then again, with the speed shown by Bodemeister today, the shorter Preakness could very well be his. But perhaps with an earlier kick, Dullahan could be the one to hit the wire first. All of that is for another day, however. Tonight, trainer Doug O'Neil and owner J. Paul Reddam will celebrate the win that was. Because they have captured horse racing's greatest prize.