The Oaklawn Park 3-year-olds take their final steps toward Kentucky Derby 2012 in Saturday’s G1 Arkansas Derby and Bodemeister and Secret Circle share top billing for trainer Bob Baffert.
#11 Bodemeister is the 9-5 morning line favorite. The unraced juvenile landed the place in his Santa Anita sprint bow before romping in a fast flat mile graduation run Feb 11. He gave his all but could not quite match strides with Creative Cause in the G2 San Felipe March 10, and he was hardly disgraced in a fine runner-up performance. He removes the hood and figures in the thick of things throughout under Mike Smith.
#5 Secret Circle (5-2) has fired Exacta shots in all six lifetime starts and is 2-for-2 at Oaklawn Park. The hard knocking early-pressing type may have reached the end of his stamina rope but must be respected throughout under Bejarano.
#3 Najjaar (15-1) is an interesting late runner for profitable dirt route trainer Dan Peitz. He fell too far back under Borel in the G2 Rebel and showed late interest while splitting the 12-horse field. He is reportedly training well for this and can make a serious late run if he is able to maintain contact with the field.
#2 Stat (10-1) has raw talent for Todd Pletcher. The early-pressing type reminds me a bit of Dance City, who landed the show for this barn in last year’s Arkansas Derby.
#6 Isn’t He Clever (6-1) almost stole the candy in the G3 Sunland Derby but he moved a bit too soon under Contreras. He would probably be a slam dunk if this race was in New Mexico but looms a tactical threat nonetheless. Albarado hops aboard.
#1 Cozzetti (15-1) put in a late run to garner the show in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby last time. He appears capable of landing the show for Dale Romans but a win would surprise.
#4 Jake Mo (30-1) has danced all of the local dances (Smarty Jones, Southwest, Rebel) and was not disgraced in any of those events. He can compete for a minor award at a big number.
#7 Optimizer (30-1) rallied for the place in the Rebel but that was his sixth straight loss on conventional dirt. Court got to know him last time but Lukas struggles in graded races (2% wins, 154-race sample) and this one is better on synthetic/turf.
#9 Sabercat (15-1) won a slow renewal of the G3 Delta Jackpot as a juvenile and predictably flopped while overbet in his Rebel return. He can spring forward 2nd off the shelf but is not fast enough to threaten these.
#8 Atigun (30-1) is training forwardly and has seemingly gotten rid of his pesky quarter crack. He adds lasix and should improve off his 11th place Rebel finish.
#10 Raconteur (15-1) exits a game win in the $75k Private Terms Stakes but was dusted in his lone graded try (Gotham) and is a few notched below the best in here.
$6 to win, $10 to place, $15 to show #3 Najjaar
.50 cent Trifecta 5-11/ALL/3 ($9)