Six months of preparation. Two minutes of racing. The winner of the Kentucky Derby secures a place in the annals of horse racing history, while those that finish behind can only wonder "what if"? The connections of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another will bask in their Derby glory for a short amount of time and then begin preparations for the Preakness on May 19th, in an attempt to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win all three legs of the Triple Crown.
A horse gets one shot to win the biggest prize in American racing but their Derby fate is determined in a matter of seconds. A bad start, traffic problems, racing wide on the turns - any number of factors can render a top contender to also-ran status in the blink of an eye during the Kentucky Derby. The horses that are able to avoid or overcome those problems are the ones that get their picture taken at the end of the race.
Below is a look at the racing fate of several horses in this year's Derby, including the top 3 finishers: I'll Have Another, Bodemeister and Dullahan.
1st - I'll Have Another: In his previous races this spring, I'll Have Another raced right up near the lead in the early stages, never more than a couple of lengths behind the frontrunners. In the Derby, he was able to employ different tactics by sitting roughly six lengths behind the leaders in the opening six furlongs and commencing a run once the field hit the top of the stretch. The ability to run a different kind of race is what allowed I'll Have Another to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
If you're looking for reasons to be optimistic about I'll Have Another's chances to win the Triple Crown, there are several that you should take note of:
- He's a lightly raced colt (just five starts prior to the Derby) which suggests that there is still room for improvement as he continues to mature.
- His ability to successfully employ a different running style in the Derby makes him a much more dangerous colt to defeat. Versatile horses have much more room for error, allowing them to adapt to the conditions that the race throws at them.
- There is a lot of good stamina in his pedigree, both from the sire Flower Alley, and the dam sire Arch; if he makes it to the Belmont, the distance shouldn't be a huge problem.
2nd - Bodemeister: While I'll Have Another receives the majority of the praise and press for winning the Derby, Bodemeister should receive additional praise just for the fact that he set some of the fastest fractions in the history of the Derby and only lost inside the final furlong. Bodemeister ran the opening six furlongs in 22.32, 45.39 and 1:09.80. If you don't follow horse racing, those numbers don't mean a lot to you, but here's a clue as to their importance: sprint races run over six furlongs (three-quarters of a mile) generally see a final time of 1:09 to 1:11, depending on the speed of the specific track.
Bodemeister's six furlong time of 1:09.80 would have been fast for a horse running in a sprint race. For a horse running in the mile and a quarter Kentucky Derby, it's considered suicidal. Yet Bodemeister not only set these torrid fractions, but he pulled away from the field at the top of the stretch and only surrendered the lead just before the wire. No matter how you look at Bodemeister's race, it's hard not to be extremely impressed with the performance of this Bob Baffert trainee.
3rd - Dullahan: Just like his race in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November, Dullahan got bumped around at the start. Unlike his juvenile race, he was able to overcome the early trouble to race in the middle of the pack, as opposed to finding himself at the rear.
Dullahan had a rough trip in the Derby, getting boxed in as the field moved on the turn and then fanning seven wide as he came into the stretch, but that is the life of a closer in the Kentucky Derby. What's impressive about this colt is that he's able to work his way through the trouble and still finish with a flurry in the final furlongs. Many horses would just quit if the race isn't going their way. Dullahan finds a way to still run a big race in spite of the traffic trouble he may encounter.
7th - Union Rags: Not much went right for the Michael Matz trainee in this year's Derby. Union Rags got bumped at the start and then was shuffled back towards the rear of the field in the opening furlongs. Jockey Julien Leparoux attempted to make a move heading into the far turn but he found considerable traffic trouble and was able to find clear racing room until it was too late to make any sort of meaningful challenge on the leaders. Union Rags trip in the Derby is Exhibit #1 as to why this is the toughest race in all of America to win. A horse that gets knocked around at the start, or is boxed in along the rail, has very little chance to run a big race.
5th - Creative Cause: The connections of Creative Cause are probably pretty happy with the way their colt ran in the Derby, despite the fact that he wasn't able to win. He raced mid-pack in the early stages, moved to within striking distance of the leaders while entering the final turn and finished strongly well in the final furlong to finish in fifth.
9th - Hansen: The Juvenile winner was able to stalk the early speed from his outside post position, but he faded in the stretch when he couldn't keep up with Bodemeister. Considering how fast the fractions were in the early stages, it's pretty remarkable that this colt finished in the top half of the field.
10th - Daddy Nose Best: There was a lot of talk about Daddy Nose Best prior to the Derby, with many handicappers extremely high on his chances after a couple of weeks of strong works at Churchill Downs. Like many horses in the field, he got shuffled around in the early stages of the race. He soon found clear racing room in the middle stages of the race andhe had every opportunity to mount a final charge over the last quarter mile. Instead, he faded to a non-threatening tenth.
12th - Alpha: In the days leading up to the Derby, I noted that Alpha tends to have trouble getting out of the gate cleanly, yet he's usually able to still run a big race despite his troubles at the start. In the Derby, Alpha once again failed to exit the gate cleanly but, unlike his previous races, he wasn't able to run much of a race after finally settling in; a disappointing effort from the Wood Memorial runner-up.
Below are the full pari-mutuel payouts, fractions, internal splits and complete running order for the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
WIN: 19-I'll Have Another ($32.60, $13.80, $9.00)
PLACE: 6-Bodemeister ($6.20, $5.60)
SHOW: 5-Dullahan ($7.20)
$2.00 Exacta: $306.50
$0.50 Trifecta: $766.40
$1.00 Superfecta: $48,046.40
$1.00 Double: $408.80
$1.00 Oaks/Derby Double: $365/6-
$0.50 Pick 3: $824.35
$0.50 Pick 4: $7,781.10
$0.50 Pick 5: $23,923.80
$2.00 Pick 6: $675,148.00
Full Order of finish:
1st: 19 - I'll Have Another
2nd: 6 - Bodemeister
4th: 13-Went the Day Well
5th: 8-Creative Cause
7th: 4-Union Rags
8th: 7-Rousing Sermon
10th: 10-Daddy Nose Best
13th: 16-El Padrino
14th: 17-Done Talking
19th: 3-Take Charge Indy
20th: 1-Daddy Long Legs