Bodexpress, who was in the first tier of horses on the far turn of the May 4 Kentucky Derby before being snatched up in traffic and fading to 14th, galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday morning as he prepares for the Grade 1 Preakness on May18 at Pimlico in Baltimore, Md. Bodexpress finished second in the G1 Florida Derby after a second-place finish in a maiden race.
Trainer Gustavo Delgado is expected to be at Churchill on Friday to make a final decision on whether to advance to the Preakness. The Delgado stable is based at Gulfstream Park West.
“Pops said the main key right now is keeping him happy,” said Gustavo Delgado Jr., assistant to his dad. “He galloped a mile and half today, did it very easy. He was pulling all the way. I've been making reports for him. The next step is Pops gets here to see his horse. I bet if he keeps looking the way he has the last two days, it's pretty certain we're going to enter him. So far he's showing all the good signs, eating everything, no low energy level or something like that.”
Delgado Jr. said Bodexpress' Derby misadventures started before the much-scrutinized chaos at the five-sixteenths pole.
“He was looking good until the three-eighths pole,” he said. “I think the winner, Country House, was the one that made him check, even more than the horse on the inside. The way he runs and the way he develops, he looked like he would start trying again. We were a little bit down after the race, but when we saw him like it was nothing after the race, we were happy. It was like nothing was going on.”
Delgado Jr. said Bodexpress' second at 71-1 odds in the Florida Derby won by Maximum Security didn't surprise their team. That's even though Bodexpress, a son of 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister, had never run farther than a mile or around two turns before the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby — nor had he run in anything but a maiden race.
“I think it was just a matter of luck [that Bodemeister was winless heading into the Florida Derby],” Delgado Jr. said. “But he did everything as if he'd won. So it was nothing we worried about.”
As for the Florida Derby, “We knew that day that he was doing really good for the race. Pops was pretty sure he could handle the distance. He not only ran behind Maximum Security, he also beat (Fountain of Youth winner) Code of Honor, who wound up second in the big race. So that's pretty much the level he is. I think Jason Servis' horse, Maximum Security, is on the top right now, no doubt about it. But following Maximum Security, I think a lot of horses are in the same group.”
Bodexpress is owned by Top Racing, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing.
Gary Barber's War of Will, the horse whose path Maximum Security crossed into to set the stage of the historic Kentucky Derby disqualification, jogged two miles at Churchill Downs under Kim Carroll and with assistant trainer Allen Hardy alongside on a pony as training hours were winding down.
War of Will, winner of two Kentucky Derby preps at the Fair Grounds, wound up eighth in the Derby, but lost by only a total of 4 1/2 lengths. He was placed seventh after the DQ.
“He's just a remarkable animal and good athlete,” said Hardy, who oversees trainer Mark Casse's Churchill Downs operation. “There are a lot of things that are always chaotic for the Kentucky Derby, and the weather has been one of them the past few years. Just some unfortunate events occurred that I believed stopped all his momentum from carrying on and progressing to either possibly win or hit the board. … Honestly, I think everybody was just very happy that he didn't go down.”
Hardy said of seeing the photos showing War of Will's front legs mixed up with Maximum Security's hind legs, “It doesn't get any closer than that. A lot of us watched the replays that night, and it's terrifying – probably one of the most scary races I've ever witnessed. We're very fortunate he didn't go down and he's jogging and doing great and he's happy and full of himself right now. I think we owe him a lot. He's a great animal.”
With exercise rider Danny Ramsey aboard, the Kenny McPeek-trained Signalman galloped after the Churchill track opened at 5:30 a.m. Signalman comes into the Preakness off a third-place finish in Keeneland's Blue Grass (G2), finishing a nose out of second.
Laughing Fox, winner of the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational last Saturday that earned him an entry fees-paid spot in the Preakness, had an easy Thursday that is standard in the Steve Asmussen barn, going with a pony to the starting gate to stand, backing out and having a leisurely gallop the rest of the way around the track under exercise rider Brooke Stillion.
Other Preakness candidates include: Alwaysmining, who extended his winning streak to six races in the Federico Tesio at Laurel Park on April 20; Anothertwistafate, runner-up in the Lexington and the Sunland Derby (G3) in his last two races; and Win Win Win, the Blue Grass (G2) runner-up who finished 10th in the Derby.
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