Bodexpress shed his bad-boy image as well as the dubious distinction of being the world's most famous maiden, Monday at Gulfstream Park West, graduating by three lengths in Race 2 while offering a commanding, drama-free performance.
“It was important to me,” a relieved trainer Gustavo Delgado said. “Now he is very good. He broke from the gate perfect – the race was simple and easy. Now I hope he comes back from the race very good.”
Idle since rearing and unseating his jockey at the start of the May 18 Preakness Stakes (G1), Bodexpress broke cleanly and swiftly from the starting gate Sunday to assume pacesetting duties in the mile-and 70-yard maiden special weight race
“This is the first time he was very good in the gate – the first time in all of his races,” said Delgado, who owns the 3-year-old by Bodemeister with Top Racing LLC and Global Thoroughbreds LLC. “We worked and worked and worked [with him at the gate].”
Sent to post at 1-9 odds in a field reduced to four by a pair of early scratches, Bodexpress looked eager to finally graduate, making it somewhat difficult for jockey Emisael Jaramillo to get him to settle while being pressed by an equally eager Septemberten around the first turn and along the backstretch. The odds-on favorite settled into stride while setting fractions of 22.79 and 47.85 seconds for the first half-mile. The Kentucky-bred colt, who registered six solid workouts at Gulfstream Park West following a freshening in Ocala, was never threatened thereafter while posting a final clocking of 1:46.48.
“The horse came into the race in good shape, but I think the horse was 70-percent. This race will help him,” said Jaramillo, whose comments were interpreted by Gustavo Delgado Jr., the trainer's son and assistant. “He got tired a little bit. He was a little aggressive, but the trainer has done a lot of work with him.”
Bodexpress earned his 1-9 favoritism due to some sharp performances against top-class competition. He had earned a Grade 1 placing at Gulfstream Park March 30 when he finished second in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) behind Maximum Security, who went on to finish first in the Kentucky Derby (G1), only to be controversially disqualified. He finished 3 ¼ lengths clear of third-place finisher Code of Honor, who went on to finish third in the Kentucky Derby before being elevated to second due to the disqualification. Maximum Security went on to win the Haskell (G1) at Monmouth, while Code of Honor went on to win the Dwyer (G2), Travers (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).
His strong performance in the Florida Derby earned Bodexpress a berth in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 14th of 19 after being taken up in traffic on the turn into the homestretch.
Prior to his sharp performance in the Florida Derby, Bodexpress was beaten by only a neck in a maiden special weight won by Shancelot, who would go on to win the Amsterdam (G2) by 12 ½ lengths and who is likely to be one of the favorites for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 2.
“We'll take it step by step,” Delgado Jr. said. “Hopefully he comes back from this race in good shape. He has faced good horses before. The way I see it we can try anything.”
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