I’ll Have Another bests Bodemeister for Kentucky Derby glory
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BY NICHOLAS GODFREY IN LOUISVILLE
Report: USA, Saturday
Churchill Downs: Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) 1m2f, dirt, 3yo
BARGAIN buy I’ll Have Another, ridden by Kentucky Derby rookie Mario Gutierrez, ran down Bodemeister close home to land the 138th running of America’s most celebrated race in front of a record crowd of 165,307 at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
But any outside hopes of a transatlantic Classic double for Ballydoyle following Camelot’s Guineas win came to nought as Daddy Long Legs finished last of 20 under Colm O’Donoghue.
Trained in California by Doug O’Neill, Santa Anita Derby winner I’ll Have Another was sentoff a 15-1 chance before nailing the favourite Bodemeister in the last 100 yards of a remarkable contest as his front-running rival finally paid the price for some startling sectionals in the $2.2 million event.
Little-known Gutierrez, who was riding at lowly Hastings Park in Vancouver last year, appeared to wipe away a tear as he came back to unsaddle after a cool-as-cucumber ride.
“He is an amazing horse,” said the Mexican, who is 25. “I told everybody before the first time I rode him, I knew he was the one.”
Although Bodemeister was beaten, he ran a truly amazing race as Mike Smith went all out to utilise his superior pace by sending him straight to thefront, even outrunning the sprinter Trinniberg, who had been widely expected to lead.
Smith set some sizzling fractions (22.32s, 45.39s, 1.09.80s) on the Bob Baffert colt, putting several of his rivals in trouble by halfway before making a dramatic bid for home as they entered the stretch, where he shot about four lengths clear.
In contrast, I’ll Have Another raced in seventh as a confident Gutierrez bided his time after breaking from the 19 post before producing his mount to pick up the pieces as Bodemeister’s early exertions took their toll.
Arriving on the scene after a resolute run from the head of the stretch, I’ll Have Another went past his rival in the last half-furlong to score going away by a length and a half in a time of 2m01.83s.
Bodemeister was treading water at the wire, his last quarter-mile taking about 27 seconds – nearly five seconds slower than the first split. He just held late-closing Dullahan by a neck with former’Ed McMahon-trained Went The Day Well taking fourth for Graham Motion.
Daddy Long Legs got away sharply from his unfavourable inside draw and sat in a prominent spot on the rail until halfway when it all became too much and he started to paddle, dropping back through the field.
I’ll Have Another was sold as a yearling for just $11,000 at Keeneland’s September Sale before being bought as a two-year-old for $35,000 at an Ocala horses-in-training sale.
Owned by CashCall boss Paul Reddam, he is a son of US-based stallion Flower Alley, who won the Travers Stakes in 2005 before being beaten a length by Saint Liam in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
I’ll Have Another is named for his owner’s typical response when his wife puts out cookies.
Gutierrez is the son of a Mexico City-based quarterhorse trainer. Before I’ll Have Another he had had just one ride on the Churchill Downs dirt, and that was earlier on Saturday’s card.
Winning trainer Doug O’Neill, 43, operates a large stable in southern California and has more than 1,600 career victories. He is probably best known for multiple Grade 1 winner Lava Man, who acted as I’ll Have Another’s pony this week at Churchill Downs.
O’Neill is already looking ahead to a rematch with Bodemeister in the Preakness Stakes in two weeks’ time. “Maryland here we come baby!” he said.
“I bet if it had been Pletcher and Velazquez we would have been 9-2,” he added. “But we were super-confident in this colt.”
Owner Reddam’s white-and-purple colours are familiar in Britain, which has been used as his base for Breeders’ Cup winners Wilko (Jeremy Noseda) and Red Rocks (Brian Meehan).
Although he was beaten here, Bodemeister will probably be favoured in Baltimore to turn the tables after such a startling effort.
“He showed what a brilliant horse he is,” said Baffert. “I never like finishing second but I’m really pleased with the way he ran. He was doing it easily; he was within himself. He was being pressed but he’s a brilliant horse. He just came up a little short after those splits.
“He’s a very fast horse and I didn’t want to change his style,” added Baffert. “We talked about it before and I told Mike, ‘look, if he breaks great and feels like running, we can win it. Mike rode him perfect – I have no complaints there. That’s the only time I’ve run second where I’ve been happy because he ran his race.”
For Smith, this was another agonising Churchill Downs defeat to add to Zenyatta’s Breeders’ Cup Classic defeat in 2010. That time, Smith was too late; this time, he was too early.
“I’m very disappointed but at the same time I’m just so proud of him,” said the jockey. “He was flying leaving there – he was two in front leaving the gate. He didn’t finish first but he’s still the winner.
“He’s such a free-running horse that I couldn’t take that away from him. At the top of the stretch I really thought we had it but I knew we were in trouble when I saw Doug’s horse coming.”
Of the other leading fancies, Creative Cause took fifth, two places in front of Union Rags, whose chance was compromised when he got shuffled back at the break. Breeders’ Cup winner Hansen finished ninth, with Godolphin’s Alpha only 12th.
Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy was second-last under Calvin Borel.
View the original article at the Racing Post