BALTIMORE | I’ll Have Another has been at Pimlico Race Course as what trainer Doug O’Neill referred to as “the only show in town.” Not anymore.
Now he has to share the stage with Bodemeister, the morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes despite finishing second to I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby.
Bob Baffert likes his horse’s chances, and that didn’t change Thursday morning after his trip around the track.
“He went well. It looked like he went over the track nice, and he just seemed pretty cool out there,” Baffert said. “I didn’t see anything out there to make me think any different. So far so good.”
With a two-week turnaround from the Derby to the Preakness, some have wondered about how Bodemeister will react after such a fine performance at Churchill Downs.
“He’s a pretty fit horse,” Baffert said. “He can handle what we’ve thrown at him.”
After strong performances in the Arkansas Derby and then the Kentucky Derby, Baffert doesn’t expect Bodemeister to “bounce” or regress in the Preakness. The decision to bring him back for this race was made soon after the last one; Bodemeister never lost weight or experienced any issues.
“He never took a step backwards,” Baffert said. “He filled out nice and his hair looks good. He looks good.”
Despite being passed down the stretch by I’ll Have Another, Baffert never thought he had the Derby won.
“You’re disappointed that you didn’t win the race, but I was really proud of the horse,” he said. “When you lose by a length and a half, a couple more jumps, you’re going to run third or something. It’s one of those things where he ran as good as a horse can run.”
It’s likely that if Bodemeister runs that kind of race again, Baffert will have his sixth Preakness victory.