Haskin's Derby Recap: Cookie Monster

Paul Reddam stood outside Barn 3 shortly before the announcement to bring the horses to the paddock for the 138th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Dressed in a white shirt and purple tie, the colors of his silks, Reddam appeared relaxed and confident, believing his colt, I’ll Have another, was ready to prove to the world what he already knew; that this was an exceptional colt.

Everything had gone perfectly since the day the son of Flower Alley – Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch returned to training this winter after being sidelined with sore shins. Trainer Doug O’Neill had done a masterful job getting the colt this far, with victories in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), and Reddam felt there was enough karma behind the story of unknown jockey Mario Gutierrez to appease the Derby gods. Not even drawing post 19, which had never produced a Derby winner, could temper his confidence.

O’Neill was his usual fun-loving self, not showing any signs that he was about to run in the most important race of his life. Even O’Neill’s brother, Dennis, who is more low-keyed and intense, was feeling good about their chances.

Team O’Neill, as they like to be called, was ready. I’ll Have Another, who had been tearing around the Churchill Downs track every morning for the past three days, was ready. And Gutierrez, who had been riding at tiny Hastings Park in British Columbia until this year and who barely knew what the Kentucky Derby was when he came to this country from Mexico in 2006, was ready. This was his time to prove to those who were convinced he would have a meltdown in the Derby that he was able to compete at the highest level on racing’s biggest stage.

“The great thing about this kid is that they’re going to play ‘My Old Kentucky Home,’ and everyone else is going to be shaking, and he won’t even care; he’s never even heard of it.” Reddam said with that familiar grin and twinkle in his eye. “Today is Cinco de Mayo, and he’s more familiar with mariachi bands.”

As for his own nerves, he said, “I am not nervous in the slightest. I’ve been nervous before; what good does that do? I was nervous before the Santa Anita Derby, because, although I thought he was a good horse, you wonder if the Lewis was some kind of weird fluke. I felt it was legitimate, but I had to see him do it again. After he won, I knew he was the real deal, and now I really believe he’s going to run the race of his life.”

And that’s just what he did. Before a record crowd of 165,307, and facing one of the deepest and most talented fields in Kentucky Derby history, I’ll Have Another, at odds of 15-1, ran down a courageous Bodemeister, who had set blistering fractions over the souped up track to win by 1 ½ lengths.

As Reddam was about to partake in the walk over to the paddock with his wife Zillah he couldn’t help but be grateful that he was back again at the Downs after the failures of Wilko in 2005 and Liquidity and Great Hunter in 2007.

This time, the journey getting here was rewarding in that, despite being unorthodox, every piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. O’Neill and Reddam had come up with a plan early in the year to get to the Derby and stuck to it, even though very little about it was conventional.

You don’t run a 3-year-old first time out off a five-month layoff and then give him another two months off before his final Derby prep. They did.

You don’t put an unknown rider from a small-time track in British Columbia on a potential Derby horse who has no experience in big races. They did.

You don’t work a young 3-year-old between races and have him go in 1:10 flat, and then follow that up with stiff works at a mile, two at seven furlongs, and one at six furlongs. They did.

You don’t run in the Derby without having at least one work over the Churchill Downs track, as 18 of the last 20 Derby winners had done. They did.

What they also did was take home the coveted garland of roses.

There was no way Reddam could imagine that the road to those roses would actually begin when he was sitting at home one night watching TV. He asked Zillah to bring him some cookies, and after eating one, he said to her, as he usually did, “I’ll have another.” On this occasion, however, the comment stuck and he decided it would be a fun name for a horse.

The colt who would bear that name was a 2-year-old that Dennis picked out at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company April sale for $35,000. He felt if he can pay $35,000 and the horse can win for $45,000 or $50,000 he’s done a good job. Bred in Kentucky by Harvey Clarke, the chestnut colt, born on April Fools Day, actually had been consigned as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale as Hip no. 3660.

Enter Victor Davila, who would play a major role in the I’ll Have Another story. Davila is an exercise rider for Barry Eisaman of Eisaman Equine, having worked there for 10 years. Several years ago, Davila saved up $5,000 and asked Eisaman’s wife, Shari, if she could buy him a yearling at Keeneland. She spent the $5,000 on a Stormin Fever colt, whom he would sell as a 2-year-old for $105,000. The following year he gave her $7,000 and she bought him another colt whom he would sell for $35,000; still a good return on his money. With two hefty profits, Davila decided to go to Keeneland himself two years ago and it was there he purchased I’ll Have Another for $11,000. He just liked the colt’s walk and the ground he covered. He broke him and turned him over him to Eisaman to prepare for the 2-year-old sale. Eisaman gave him about seven weeks of gate training and consigned him to the sale.

“I envisioned him as a nice useful horse,” said Eisaman, who watched the race from the Atlanta airport while changing planes heading to the Timonium sale. Davila watched the race at home with his family, and on Sunday was on the road driving to Timonium.

“I was so excited watching the race,” Davila said. “I can’t describe the feeling.”

Said Eisaman, “He’s overwhelmed by all the attention he’s getting. He’s gone from obscurity to someone people in the industry will recognize.”

At the sale, the colt caught the astute eye of Dennis O’Neill, who felt he’d sell for much higher.

“He breezed in :10 2/5 and they usually have to breeze in :09 4/5 or :10 flat to be expensive,” Dennis said. “But he had a beautiful way of going, and definitely looked like he wanted to go long. He was weak behind and a little straight up, and you could pick on some things, but I know by now what Doug can put up with and what he can’t. I thought he’d go for $60,000 to $80,000 and was surprised we got him for $35,000.”

Dennis has been in remission for several years after battling cancer. "I've been through a lot," he said. "Going through what I went through makes me appreciate this a little more and appreciate your family. You can say anything you like about Doug, but he's the nicest, most caring person I know in the world. I never would have made what I've been through without him. It's great to celebrate this with him."

Doug, who is five years younger than Dennis, named his son after another brother, Danny, who died of melanoma at age 37. One of Doug's most memorable moments at Churchill Downs was putting an 11-year-old girl known only as Hope aboard Lava Man and letting her sit atop the great horse, now a stable pony. Hope was brought to Churchill through the Make a Wish Foundation. Suffering from a terminal illness, her wish was to go to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. After Doug lifted her from her wheelchair and put her on Lava Man, he asked her, "Have you ever sat on five million dollars before?" At the post-Derby press conference, Hope was brought up to join Doug, Dennis, Reddam, and Gutierrez and received a warm round of applause.

One of the reasons why Reddam and ONeill have formed such a close and successful relationship is that they pick each other’s brain and offer suggestions and indulge in friendly debates as to what is best for a horse.

When I’ll Have Another was nearing his 3-year-old debut, having fully recovered from his shin problems suffered in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), O’Neill came up with the “brain surgeon idea” of sprinting him in an allowance race on the Santa Anita downhill turf course. He told Reddam of his idea while having dinner with him and Zillah, and Reddam promptly asked him if he had been drinking.

“You guys have been telling me how good this horse is, why wouldn’t you think about the Bob Lewis?” Reddam asked.

With the Lewis now the target, there was the question of who to get to ride. They knew they’d never get Joel Rosario, who was Creative Cause’s rider, or Rafael Bejarano, who was riding Bob Baffert’s best 3-year-olds. Reddam just happened to be watching a particular race won by this unknown rider named Mario Gutierrez and liked what he saw.

“This kid looks good on a horse,” Reddam told O’Neill. “Let’s try some new blood and give him a shot.”

Gutierrez, a native of Vera Cruz, had come to Del Mar from Hastings Park three years ago to see if he could get some mounts. He had no agent when he arrived and didn’t get a single mount, so he went back home to British Columbia. But he was determined to try to make it and returned, hiring 85-year-old Ivan Puhich as his agent.

“He’s a real Cinderella story, to come to Santa Anita from Hastings Park with no agent,” Reddam said. “I watched him ride and I liked the way he sat on a horse. That’s when I mentioned to Doug about riding him in the Lewis. Doug had never met the kid, and he suggested we have him work I’ll Have Another, and this way he could meet him and see how he gets along with the horse.”

After working him, Gutierrez left the barn feeling both exhilaration and disappointment. He turned to Puhich and said, “That is a real good horse. There’s no way they’re going to let me ride him.”

But he didn’t know Reddam, who has never been afraid to step out of the box and do something different. And so it was that Gutierrez became the rider of I’ll Have Another. He gave the colt a flawless ride in the Lewis, springing a 43-1 upset.

Many felt that was a fluke race, with the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) winner, Liaison, clipping heels and throwing his rider after already appearing to be beaten, and CashCall runner-up Rousing Sermon finishing a lackluster fourth. Ironically, the CashCall Futurity is sponsored by Reddam’s lending company.

Because I’ll Have Another received such a fast speed figure in the Lewis, O’Neill decided to pass up the San Felipe (gr. II) and train him up to the Santa Anita Derby off an eight-week layoff. In between he worked him long and fast, in much the same manner as Charlie Whittingham, of whom he was in awe when he first started training. Ironically, O’Neill would become the first trainer to win the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby since Whittingham did it with Sunday Silence in 1989.

Leading up to the Santa Anita Derby, Reddam was having trouble sleeping. Did he have a Kentucky Derby horse or didn’t he?

What really impressed him and boosted his confidence was that the day before the race, Gutierrez watched the tapes of all nine starters on his own, without anyone telling him to do it. Unlike the Lewis, I’ll Have Another was tested by the 2011 Norfolk (gr. I) winner Creative Cause and outgamed him to win by nose in front of six busloads of Reddam’s employees and friends. Reddam had designated one of the busses as the drunken bus, but by the time they arrived at the track, they were pretty much all drunken busses, with everyone chanting “Cash Call!” The winner’s circle was so packed they could barely get the horse in.

“With all the yelling and screaming, he didn’t turn a hair,” Reddam said. “I don’t know what the race took out of him, but a dogfight like this was a good experience for him.”

Having survived a dogfight and a rambunctious crowd, I’ll Have Another was officially ready for the Kentucky Derby.

Shortly before leaving for Kentucky, he made the headlines by being placed on the vet’s list in California after undergoing extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) on his back, which tightened up after his latest work.

"It's just a pulse that brings blood to an area," Reddam said at the time. "The horse has absolutely nothing wrong with him. Doug just did it because he could do it, and his owner will pay for it. He's just leaving no stone unturned. In California, you can't use it within 10 days of an upcoming race, so you have to report it and go on the vet’s list.”

When I’ll Have Another arrived at Churchill Downs, he looked fantastic coming off the van; his coat in resplendent condition. On the Wednesday before the race, Reddam and Zillah were late getting to the draw, and were in the Churchill Downs parking lot when I’ll Have Another drew the 19-post. They learned of their fate from O’Neill’s text.

“It is what it is,” Reddam said. “But we have two stone closers inside of us and one outside, so we should be able to save some ground.”

It became apparent the colt loved the track, motoring around there every morning in what looked to be a two-minute lick. The morning before the race he came barreling around the turn, close to the rail, in a gallop that was awfully close to a work.

Most of the talk at Churchill Downs surrounded Union Rags and his owner Phyllis Wyeth and trainer Michael Matz, and also Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner Bodemeister, named by owner Ahmed Zayat after Bob Baffert’s son Bode. Five weeks earlier, Baffert suffered a heart attack in Dubai and had to have three stents inserted to unblock an artery. Also, there was Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) winner Dullahan, trained by the popular Dale Romans, who grew up just about a mile from Churchill and now trains out of the same barn he once worked in for his father, who maintained a claiming stable for many years.

“This one isn’t about the money,” Romans said. “This one is emotional. If we win you’re probably going to see some tears.”

A good deal of focus was on the flamboyant Dr. Kendall Hansen, majority owner of last year’s champion 2-year-old Hansen, who like Union Rags, Creative Cause, and Dullahan, was one of eight starters from the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) to run in the Derby. Dr. Hansen had a bevy of beauties, wearing blue costumes with a blue tail, accompanying him all day giving out Hansen dolls. There also was the return of last year’s winning team of Team Valor, trainer Graham Motion, and jockey John Velazquez, who had the improving Spiral (gr. II) winner Went the Day Well.

One of the main attractions at Churchill since Tuesday was the presence of the great Lava Man, who is now a pony for O’Neill and who accompanied I’ll Have Another to the track. Each day after training, they would remove his bridle and Lava Man would walk on his own over to the feed bags in the shedrow, decide which ones he wanted, and proceed to have his breakfast. At home at Hollywood Park, he eats out of the feed bins, and if they’re closed he opens them with his nose. If he doesn’t care for one he’ll move on to the next one.”

Derby morning brought the tail end of heavy rains, accompanied by thunder and lightning, which would dissipate by 6 a.m. Matz was in the recreation room getting coffee and was befuddled by the ninth-place finish by And Why Not in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). He was hoping that was not a sign of things to come. Baffert arrived early to check out the track, but didn’t realize it had been closed for training due to the weather. “If I had known that I wouldn’t have gotten up so early,” he said.

Blacksmith Steve Norman was a busy man, making some last-minute adjustments to Creative Cause’s glue-on shoes and putting new shoes on Gemologist and El Padrino.

As post time for the Derby neared, spirits were high at Barn 3. Reddam talked about I’ll Have Another’s aggressive gallops.

“Doug wanted to take the horse out this morning and gallop him,” Reddam said. “He galloped him the day of the Santa Anita Derby. I told him, ‘You know, Doug, why don’t you leave a little in the tank? You’ve been whipping him around there, practically breezing the horse every day.’ He said, ‘No, I don’t want to interrupt his routine.’ I told him, ‘Well, you’re the trainer, but if you just walk him this morning that really wouldn’t bother me.’ And then it started raining and I’m going ‘Yes!’”

Dennis O’Neill also brought out his dry humor, saying he was confident in the horse, but “I don’t think an O’Neill can win the Derby. O’Neills are not supposed to win the Kentucky Derby.”

Finally, it was post time, with Bodemeister getting a lot of late action to go off as the 4-1 favorite, with Union Rags second choice at 5-1. The only other horse in single digits was Gemologist at 8-1. I’ll Have Another was a generous 15-1, considering he was unbeaten this year and winner of the Santa Anita Derby. But he did have the 19-post. “I also think part of that is riding a no-name jockey,” Reddam said.

At the start, Union Rags was bumped and squeezed back by Kent Desormeaux on Dullahan on his outside and Calvin Borel on Take Charge Indy on his inside, reminiscent of Lookin at Lucky in 2010. After an eighth of a mile he was already back in 18th and pretty much out of it.

Meanwhile, Bodemeister, the inside speed, outran Trinniberg and Hansen, who was in traffic between Daddy Long Legs and Gemologist. I’ll Have Another, just as Reddam had hoped, cleared the two closers, Sabercat and Done Talking, and as others peeled off, he found himself only three wide and right behind Gemologist. As they headed into the first turn, the opening quarter in a rapid :22.32, I’ll Have Another remarkably was all by himself, with only Take Charge Indy several paths inside him on the rail.

Down the backstretch, Bodemeister established a clear lead, dogged by Trinniberg, with Hansen now in the clear in third. They hit the half in a blistering :45.39, which in fifths of a second was tied for the second fastest in Derby history. I’ll Have Another was a length behind Hansen and still in excellent position, with Gemologist well clear of him on his outside and Take Charge Indy well clear of him on his inside.

As they headed toward the far turn, Trinniberg pulled up to Bodemeister’s flank, but he soon began his retreat, leaving Bodemeister with a clear lead through a torrid three-quarters in 1:09.80, fourth fastest in Derby history. As he began to open up on the field, it looked as if he was going to pull off a Spend a Buck-like victory and forever put Apollo's ghost to rest after 130 years. A horse finally was about to win the Derby without having raced as a 2-year-old.

Creative Cause was the first of the mid-pack horses to emerge on the scene, but was six-wide around the turn, losing way too much ground. Desormeaux moved Dullahan up into contention and then swung colt way to the outside of Creative Cause in no man’s land. Although it probably seemed liked the right move to make under the circumstances, had he stayed where he was he would have had a clear path right behind the winner. To make matters worse, I’ll Have Another blew the turn into the stretch, carrying Creative Cause well out to the middle of the track, which in turn carried Dullahan some 10-wide. The only thing out that far other than Dullahan were the puddles of water still on the track, which had been labeled fast all day.

Into the stretch, after a mile in 1:35.19, Bodemeister looked to be home free, opening up a three-length lead. But as he began to shorten stride, I’ll Have Another, who had straightened himself out and was now back down in the four-path, was closing in fast, charging past Hansen. Dullahan also was rallying, but had conceded way too much ground and was closer to the photographers on the outside rail than he was to Bodemeister. Creative Cause had a clear run at the leader, despite being carried wide, but didn’t have enough punch in the final furlong.

Gutierrez went to several right-handed whips and finally was able to get the better of a game Bodemeister with about 70 yards to go, and then quickly drew clear. Dullahan continued to close, but just missed catching Bodemeister by a neck for second. Went the Day Well rallied late, nailing Creative Cause for fourth. The first five finishers were separated by only three lengths, with a four-length gap between fifth and Liaison in sixth. Union Rags, despite the bad start and encountering traffic on the far turn, finished a respectable seventh and returned as if he hadn’t run at all. The final time for the 1 ¼ miles was 2:01.83.

O’Neill proceeded to give bear hugs to just about anyone who came up to congratulate him. Reddam’s grin and twinkle had grown larger as he attempted to soak in what had just happened.

“This is unbelievable,” he said. “I know everyone says that, but it is unbelievable. We stayed quiet and took the heat off us. Mario is so cool. He doesn’t even know what just happened, I can guarantee you. He was joking around before he got on the horse.”

As for O’Neill’s training job, Reddam said. “That was a training legend you saw today. Doug showed a lot of guts the way he trained him.”

The race was a was a tough defeat for Bodemeister, who ran an incredible race coming back in only three weeks after his brilliant victory in the Arkansas Derby, but Baffert was extremely proud of him and said it was the only time he’s finished second where he’s been happy, because the colt ran his race. It was also another tough Derby experience for Zayat, who has now finished second in three of the last four Kentucky Derbys, and in the other year, he lost the overwhelming favorite, Eskendereya, to injury shortly before the race.

Although Zayat was hurting inside, he kept his feelings in check when he saw how the defeat affected his son Justin, who has become his right-hand man, and 7-year-old Bode Baffert, for whom Bodemeister was named. Zayat took great satisfaction in knowing that Bodemeister had turned in a herculean effort and has a sensational career ahead of him.

Romans said Dullahan’s terrible trip and ultimate defeat was “a tough pill to swallow,” but he, like Baffert and Zayat, did not place any blame on the jockey. Romans felt that Dullahan was the best horse in the race, considering his ground loss and explosive finish.

British born Jack Sisterson, assistant trainer to O’Neill, said there were words coming out of his mouth after the race, but he had no idea what he was saying. His cell phone vibrated with so many text messages, it was a constant vibration, registering 93 messages in a 30-second span. The most special one was from his parents back in England, saying, “We’re so proud you. Savor the moment.”

Saturday night, as a rare “super moon” shone down on Louisville, I’ll Have Another calmly posed for pictures with dozens of people wanting to get close up to a Derby winner. After his photo session, the colt buried his head in his feed tub.

Doug and Dennis returned from the party at the Kentucky Derby Museum to a chorus of cheers and then Doug joined in a group photo outside the barn, with everyone chanting “I’ll Have Another!”

Dennis walked up to the colt’s stall and simply said, “You won the Derby, buddy.” Doug said was afraid he was going to wake up the following morning to discover that he had actually won a $10,000 claimer, proving once again that the Kentucky Derby treads a fine line between fantasy and reality.

Reddam believed all along this was all about karma, especially the decision to put Gutierrez up on the horse.

“I felt this was just going to happen,” he said. “And, poof, it happened.”


Leave a Comment:


Mario actually rode the 2nd race on Friday at Churchill, on one of Reddam's horses, he got beat a nose on a 27:1 longshot. Did he forget? He also rode in the Woodford Turf on Derby Day as well.

Anyway, great article about a unbelievably awesome horse who could very well win the Triple Crown. I was at Hastings for the Derby and the place was wild. So much fun! All of us backstretchers are so proud of Mario. He's like a son to all of us :) Can't wait for the Preakness.

07 May 2012 10:13 PM
Mister Frisky

Thanks again Steve for the great coverage the past few months.First,Congratulations to all the bloggers who had IHA,hopefully you made it to the windows and cashed big time,job well done.Second,Yet another year that the monster stamina pedigree horses finish barely in front of the water truck ,ie Alpha,Gem,and TCI.Now let's talk some red meat.Juli no guts no heart Leparoux should be on the first Air Frog flight to France.He gave Rags ZERO chance to to anything last Saturday,it was disgraceful.Baffert would have replaced that coward during the post race interview.Leparoo needs to go back to mucking stalls for Biancone.Thanks for nothing Juli,try the carosel if your not afraid.

07 May 2012 10:50 PM

OMG. The Derby winner sold for $11,000 as a yearling.

07 May 2012 11:03 PM

Wonderful,'feel good' article on I'll Have Another's connections!   The unlikely jockey, unconventional trainer, down to earth owner, not to mention the Canadian connections...what a back story. The characters and the horse are incredible. Thanks for sharing Steve!

07 May 2012 11:34 PM
Amy Hurley

Thanks for the background story, Steve.  We can always look forward to the inside scoop after each major race....Several people on tv have said that Mario misjudged the finish line and stopped riding for a stride; did you see that?  It certainly wasn't obvious, if it did happen, and didn't cost the horse anything.  

07 May 2012 11:48 PM
Tiz Herself

You've done it again Steve! Awesome recap of the Derby.

I'll Have Another was not going to be denied. He kept on coming and showed he was all heart.

Hope Take Charge Indy comes out of surgery okay and wonder if Daddy Long Legs came out in good order? And Trinniberg as well, he was definitely in way over his head in there. He didn't do what I thought he was going to do. I had pictured Trinniberg being the one on the lead running his eyeballs out with Bode tracking him.

Poor Union Rags must have gotten the Lookin at Lucky wand waved at him. Always seems to find himself in trouble, regardless of who the rider is. He's not nearly done yet. We'll see more from this guy. Same with Creative Cause as you said he went wide in the Derby and just couldn't get up there.

Thanks again Steve! Highlight of my Monday!

07 May 2012 11:55 PM
Tiz Herself

So proud of Believe You Can in the Oaks. I had liked her from her maiden win last year as a two year old. She reminded me then so much of Proud Spell, not to mention the same connections; both being by Proud Citizen, same owner, same trainer. Larry will be able to enjoy this one more as when Proud Spell won it he had also gone through the worst tragedy on Derby Day with Eight Belles. With her name, Believe You Can was destined to be on top.

Can't wait to see more from her. And Broadway's Alibi.

07 May 2012 11:59 PM
Tiz Herself

Also on the note of Believe You Can of course, there is no doubt that Rosie Napravenik is a Hall of Famer to be one day! Love her as a rider!

08 May 2012 12:02 AM

Great article...it must have taken you all day to print it!

Did the search party find Gemologist yet? How could a horse with so much potential run such a dismal race?

After the 1:09 & change,it looked like Bode was the next triple crown winner!....but reality began to set in..and you could feel the wall of horses coming....but they never really did.....except for I'll Have Another (I spelled his name out in full because he deserves it!)

So I'm left befuddled about this Derby. Congrats to the winner, but he's gonna have alot of company in his next two races. To his credit he seems to be a very "alert" horse...while most of the others were asleep at the bit!

08 May 2012 12:29 AM

Lessons in handicapping

CURRENT FORM means everything. The first four finishers each won their previous race coming into the Derby. (Why didn't Gemologist finish in this pack?)Heat? Humidity?

I think Alpha and Gemologist need a 1:22 work at Belmont. It's time to get serious or get out of the way!

08 May 2012 12:45 AM

Haskins wonderbar.  The only other writer on horses who can even touch you is that Layden fellow at SI.

08 May 2012 12:50 AM

I think I'll Have Another has a real shot at the Triple Crown!  Bodemeister will never come back after the two huge efforts at Ark. and Churchill.

08 May 2012 12:54 AM

Great article Steve,

I was waiting anxiously on your story, even though I watched the derby and the race replays live on NBC, your blogs just seem very important. I was silent all along (registered to comment 5 mins ago) but paid very much attention to the derby dozen lists and "And They're Off" never ceases to entertain.

The trip for I'll Have Another was a gift, while my choice Union Rags was dealt a harsh blow of bad luck at the very start. What is evident about Mario Gutierrez is that he may not have known the track very well and was a stranger to the whole derby experience but this guy definitely knew his horse. He also knew what he came to do, which simply was, to do what he was accustomed to doing; believing in his horse and putting him into the race at crunch time. Also what Bodemeister did in defeat made it all the more exciting, as it took absolutely nothing away from him. What a great race!

Following the trail and watching the derby unfold was very fulfilling and nothing happened that surprised me, this being such a talented group. I stick to one horse going into the derby and if he loses I ride with two into the Preakness, my derby horse and the Triple Crown hopeful. If either one where to win I would be very happy.

Best of luck to everyone and keep up the good work Steve.

08 May 2012 1:17 AM

Weekend In Kentucky


08 May 2012 1:26 AM

Many of your questions can be answered by studying the slideshow on this site.

For instance, you will see Dullahan break inward, smash Union Rags almost off his feet and take his path, while all nearby runners, looking to get in, close up and form a wall.

Rags did not break slowly. He did not get "squeezed back." If we're going to call anybody a coward, Playfrisky, how about all the people who pretend there are never egregious fouls in the sainted Kentucky Derby?

The disqualification of Dancer's Image when he tested positive for bute was, you can imagine, accompanied by a multitude of tales and opinions and I make no representations about the truth of this one.

I heard that his trainer heard that the Derby winner's urine sample was always poured down the drain. No way was the Derby winner ever going to be disqualified. Peter Fuller's and/or Lou Cavalaris' mistake, it was said, was thinking this would apply to a winner owned by a Yankee and trained by a Canadian.

08 May 2012 2:44 AM

Thank you, STEVE!  Great stuff.  Funny bit on LAVA MAN.

You could sure tell MATZ was not a happy camper and can't say that I blame him.  LEPAROUX seemed to me a little apprehensive in the trenches while other riders were doing what they had to do.  He had only two horses to go around could've had a perfect rail trip if only...Nonetheless, UNION RAGS was closing like a freight train just like WENT THE DAY WELL.  That was very impressive how they closed.  Reminded me of ICE BOX in his Derby.

I couldn't be happier for I'LL HAVE ANOTHER and connections.  I got my win ticket but my EX & TRI would have been much better.  I didn't think BODEMEISTER was going to give such an unforgettable performance.  Into the stretch, I was on my feet believing he was going to pull it off.  Both of these horses are fantastic!

I thought I'd get more from DADDY NOSE BEST, SABERCAT, and TAKE CHARGE INDY, but it was a tremendous field, an amazing race, and we have an oustanding triple crown season on our hands.  

Any feedback on why GEMOLOGIST came up a dud?

I feel bad for how PROSPECTIVE was cut off by HANSEN, and, could we keep the good Dr. H at home somehow next time???  He's painful for me to watch.

STEVE, your 2012 season has been SUBLIME!

08 May 2012 3:10 AM
The Deacon

Brilliant read Steve, as always.

This is a real feel good story. For me, being from the west coast and growing up watching all the greats run at Santa Anita this win by I'll Have Another really makes my year. I didn't believe a west coast could win the Kentucky Derby anytime soon, sure glad to be proven wrong. This may put Santa Anita, Del Mar and maybe even Hollywood Park back on the racing map. Can he win the Triple Crown, after what I saw Saturday anything is possible.

Dr. D said a west coast horse was due to win one, and boy was he right.

The road will get tougher, there are a bunch of really good colts out there. Wait till Algorythms gets back to, we are in for a treat.......

08 May 2012 3:29 AM
Tiz Herself

In the 2003 Kentucky Derby Empire Maker went to the gate the favorite. He had the breeding being by Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and foaled from the mare Toussasud. It seemed impossible that this horse owned by Kalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms should lose this afternoon. The starting gate opened and the field was off and running. At the finish it was Funny Cide, a gelded son of Distorted Humor that would finish ahead of Empire Maker to capture the roses for Cash is King, jockey Jeremy Rose, and trainer Barclay Tagg giving his connections their first Kentucky Derby. Empire Maker would be denied here.

Fast forward to 2012 and Bodemeister was installed one of the Derby favorites and the field was sent on their way. At the finish it would be a grandson of Distorted Humor, I'll Have Another, sired by Flower Alley who would be first at the wire with Bodemeister, sired by Empire Maker denied his bid and in second.

Funny Cide of course went on to win the Preakness as well while running third in the Belmont Stakes in his quest for the Triple Crown and Empire Maker was the one who denied him that.

Will history repeat itself? I love how some things feel like deja vu.

08 May 2012 4:35 AM

Great article Steve, as always.  Very insightful, fair and even-handed.

The horse who got the best trip and the best ride won on this day.  Congratulations to all of the connections and kudos to the owner/trainer for letting a relatively unknown jock keep the ride in the Derby.  Many would have been looking for a "name", but I don't think any jockey could have done better.  Julian should watch the replay, over and over and over until maybe he gets it.  You don't win these races unless you keep your horse out of trouble.  No, the problem at the break was probably unavoidable but did he do anything right?  No.  Stuck his horse down on the rail which was playing a little slow and got him in trouble at least twice more, requiring severe checking.  One thing, considering how Rags was motoring once Julian did finally get him in the clear and on the good part of the track, I think people might quit saying he can't get the distance.  There were lots of verbal battles over which "super" horse had the better distance pedigree, Rags or Hansen.  With these two the pedigree isn't the telling issue; it's stride and running style and I am as convinced as ever that Rags can run all day.  It sounds as though the jury is out on whether or not he will contest the Preakness but I certainly hope he shows up for the Belmont.  Maybe with a different rider?

And speaking of the inside of the track playing a bit slow, kudos to Bode who was an absolute monster on the lead while mostly inside.  That colt ran his heart out and probably deserved the win even more than I'll Have Another.  I was very, very impressed.  I hope they give him a break because his last 2 races have been over-the-top, and the Derby was a gut wrencher.

08 May 2012 4:43 AM

The Derby has come and gone, and I think we should all be thankful and appreciate what an exciting trail it was.  So many good horses, and very few sad defections, which we have become accustomed to in the past few years.  

And, of course, thanks to Steve for his keen and beautiful prose along the way.

What an exciting race!  For a few seconds, I thought we might be seeing a super horse in Bodemeister, but the distance and his pace got the better of him.  But man, considering his somewhat light foundation, what a run!  Congrats to Mario, Doug and all the connections to IHA.  The horse is legit, and has a reasonable shot at the TC.  But you know Dullahan will be primed for the Belmont.

Union Rags never had a chance, but I think he definitely answered any remaining questions of his ability to get the distance.

It's gonna be an exciting summer!  Enjoy the ride.  It may be a few years before we see such a competitive and talented group of 3 yr olds as this.

08 May 2012 5:55 AM
Bill Two

Great wrapup.  I think there are two new stars that emerged from the Derby.  That kid is as cool as they come.  What a beautiful trip he gave that horse.  You pointed IHA  out during Derby week and mentioned how well he had been training. That's the kind of information that helps fatten the bankroll.  Thanks.

08 May 2012 7:00 AM

PS....is it just me or does anyone else have a hard time believing Doug's explanation for the name of the horse?  

08 May 2012 7:29 AM

I'm not so sure I'll Have Another would be the Derby winner if it weren't for Bodemeister chasing down Trinniberg like a pit bull after a rabbit. Trinni was a spoiler in this Derby. Great run by I'll Have Another, but take Trinniberg out of the picture and the end result probably would've been different. Bodemeister is a force to be reckoned with, I really like him. I don't see a triple crown this year. Three races, three winners. Who will take the Preakness? I wonder.

08 May 2012 8:25 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

Superb article. Just a complete joy to read. The only really good post-Derby article I've read, but this one is great. Thanks for your comment The Deacon.

08 May 2012 8:26 AM
Sue MacGray

Great article Steve, thanks! Dullahan's closing third returned  a few $ for me.... Loved the way he ran and nearly caught Bode at the end. I'm hoping he rests up on the next one and runs in the Belmont. But as one poster said above, I'll be rooting for the 'Triple Crown' horse for now anyway. I believe Julien has already been 'unhired' by Matz. It's a shame UR can't seem to get a decent ride. Also was a little confused by Gemologist's run. Even though his previous competition had not been stellar, I expected him to be in the top 4 or at least show up. Great race, very exciting. I watched an interview with Doug and was impressed by his training methods (a la Whittingham), too bad I didn't back it up at the betting window....

08 May 2012 8:36 AM

Thanks so much Steve for another great article!  I love getting the inside info that you always give us! I thought it was a great race!  I really liked I'll Have Another and Bodemeister - they were my picks along with Creative Cause.  The way I'll Have Another was being trained clinched it for me...  I have a good feeling here thinking we may see another Triple Crown this year - and I haven't said that but a couple of times since Spectacular Bid lost.  Thanks for all your great coverage again during this Derby trail!!!

08 May 2012 8:45 AM

Wow! What a thrilling Derby!  It was sublime.  And Steve, your writing puts the cherry on top with your insider's views and poetic prose.

Both Broadway's Alibi and Bodemeister set wicked fractions, and their runs were superb.  Both overtaken by a stronger, faster horse.  Believe You Can and I'll Have Another both earned their victories with a flair of trumpets.  

And I still think Lava Man was giving IHA pointers on the way to the track.  And the folks in Maryland get to spend 2 weeks with the Derby winner and a multi-millionaire champion...aren't they lucky?

Playfriskyfor me: Don't forget, as good as he is, Union Rags has made a habit of finding trouble no matter who his rider is, and your diatribe and name-calling is distasteful.

08 May 2012 8:54 AM
The Legend

As always Steve great job. And now I would like to make some comments about the Derby. It had been written that this was the deepest field of 3yr olds in a very long time. When the last half mile was run in 52 and change and nothing was closing i asked myself how good can they be? Someone mentioned Gemologist well this race wasn't run in NY or FL it was run in Kentucky where Pletcher doesn't have the runof the farm. I have alot of respect for Mike Matz and I will be so dissapointed in him if rides Leparoux back on Union Rags two bad rides in back to back starts. So in closing to say this was was the best crop of 3yr olds to run a Derby in a very long time just go back to the charts and see where some of these horses finished!

I will be rooting for I'll Have Another to win the Triple Crown!

08 May 2012 8:58 AM

First, congratulations to you Steve, because since the very beginning, you always believed in I´ll Have Another and  until the last moment, you insisted on his big chance to win the Derby. Congratulations! I want to say thar Bodemeister performance was just amazing, superb and i do believe this colt is special. I don´t know whether Bodemeister will be the best horse in this country, or the best miler or sprinter. Now,i don´t really know, but he will be making to much noice in the next weeks if he keep going healthy. About Union Rags, i think the Preakness will be more easy for him and will be a hard factor in that race. Like you, he reminded me a lot to Lucky and Lucky, who with bette trip won the Preakness.

08 May 2012 9:27 AM
Derby Dew


Thanks, as always, for the personal touch of your wrap up on I'll Have Another's connections.

I used IHA as one of my 3 $50 win bets, UR and Gem being the other 2.

I almost backed off IHA when he drew the 19 stall in the gate, which added to my agnst of using Mario in his first Derby ride.  However, the horse looked so good in his morning gallops and when Mario was interviewed Friday morning on TVG, I was relieved to see a calm, cool, collected, not to mention, confident young man who was focused on putting IHA in the best position to win. Unlike Julien on UR, Mario was totally focused on his Derby ride.  Leparoux had a lot of distractions Derby week with family in town and participating in pre-race festivities.  Julien had a bitterly disappointing ride in the Derby, especially coming on the heels of his questionable tactics in the Florida Derby.  Would be surprized if Matz didn't give him the boot.

Anxious to see how I'll Have Another adapts to the Pimlico racing surface.  If he's comfortable on it, then further financial support from this bettor is highly warranted.

Looking for ANOTHER SUPER MARIO day.

08 May 2012 9:30 AM

horse of destiny-stage2 the preakness iha has the speed to take advantage of pimlico. i think this race will be harder to win than the belmont. he wins this race by 2 and the belmont by 6. looks like a durable type that stays sound for a long time. good luck to iha!

08 May 2012 9:31 AM

Although I had a winning ticket, first thing I thought after the race was, 'well, not much color to the story this year'.

Then again, there's Steve Haskin...

Once I saw the story with your byline, I put everything else aside. Thanks once again for a great tale.

08 May 2012 9:33 AM
Susan from VA

You write so well!  So many good horses this year.  Did Lava Man ever race in the East?  (I guess I could look it up, but I'm lazy).  It is interesting that a West Coast champion is ponying (at least for now) on the East Coast.

08 May 2012 9:46 AM

Any idea on what had Hansen so agitated when he came onto the track?  He looked like he'd just stepped out of the shower, he was so wet!  I know that sometimes colts are bothered by all the band from the singing of My Old Kentucky Home, but Hansen was too wet by that point for it to have been that?  Seems to me he left his race in the barn - used up all his energy before he got to the track...

08 May 2012 10:00 AM
Linda in Texas

You all know i was loving Steve's wonderful story and to think it was real made it priceless.

How 'bout Rosie on Rags in The Belmont?????? :) Rest him up, no Preakness. Just my thoughts.

Thank you Steve Haskin.  

08 May 2012 10:11 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone for your kind words. I appreciate it.

08 May 2012 10:21 AM

Nice job as always Mr.Haskin..

Congrats to the "Ill have Another" Team well done..

Note to self NEVER NEVER bet on a Pletcher horse in the Derby..

If Union Rags runs in the Preakness I am all over him..

Only 362 days until the 2013 Kentucky Derby

08 May 2012 10:28 AM

Extraordinary as always Mr. Haskin.  I saw Mario riding here in México City in 2005, the nicest guy you´ll ever find!!!  Muchas felicidades estimado Mario, te mereces todo lo que has logrado, mucha suerte y échale muchas ganas, te mandamos cariño y las mejores vibras.  Adios!

08 May 2012 10:32 AM
Mister Frisky

@Cassandra Says,Your historical knowledge of racing is outstanding and I respect your post.@Slew now that's a different story.No way Steve Haskin let's my post in if it's so DISTASTEFUL  as you say.Nice to see political correctness has invaded horse racing as well.I guess words hurt I'm sorry.You wanna read hard core posts from people who don't bet on the pretty gray horse,try the DRF blogs.Mine was mild in comparison.Leparoux is an over hyped jockey who is scared to put his mounts between horses,plain and simple.

08 May 2012 10:39 AM

Thank you, Steve.  There is just no way that I have the vocabulary to express how much I've enjoyed reading your wrap-up this morning, an article that I've been anticipating!  The background details and side stories told with your talent for words - just wow!  Some times I think I must have a disconnect between my eyes and brain when I am watching racing and I love when you can break it apart and describe events in such details that I can better understand what I have seen.  I'm sure that doesn't make much sense, but there it is - lol!  Count me as one who also feels that this is a more talented group of colts than we've seen in recent years and I am really looking forward to the future racing of several of them after they recover from such a grueling race as the Derby.  Thank you for being there to observe and share with us. What more can I say but thank you again!



08 May 2012 10:50 AM

Great write up and back story on the winner's connections. Again, hindsight is 20/20....The Santa Anita Derby this year was the slugfest that we remember Barbaro having before his triumph...Still, I can't help feeling that the fastest horse didn't win given the wide and bumpy trips of the 3rd and 4th place finishers, let alone another poor trip for Rags. Take nothing away from the winner, I just think it would be a stretch to see a triple crown this year at best. Will stay tuned of course...

08 May 2012 11:01 AM
Smoking Baby

 The California horse occupied five of the first eight positions at the finish.  Not too shabby.  BIG races by both Dullahan and Went The Day Well.  While I never thought Union Rags was the superhorse he'd been touted as I think writing him off at this point should be done at your own risk.  My main concern with I'll Have Another in the Preakness is whether he'll be able to come back and run well in two weeks.  Nothing in his form so far indicates he'll be as good coming back this soon.  Obviously I could be wrong.  Steve, I really LOVED that you included the part about the little girl being put up on Lava Man.  SO COOL.  Thanks for another awesome read.

08 May 2012 11:01 AM
Pedigree Ann

"So I'm left befuddled about this Derby. Congrats to the winner, but he's gonna have alot of company in his next two races. "

Tj, there is nothing that should befuddle you. I'll Have Another had the best form and should have been favorite - he had beaten the horse (Creative Cause) who had beaten the horse who went out of town to run the most impressive prep (Bodemeister). The line through Rousing Sermon-Mark Valeski-El Padrino told you all you needed to know about the LA/FLA form. The only wildcards were those without tied-in form - Dullahan, Went the Day Well, Daddy Nose Best, Gemo and Alpha.

Tried and true handicapping methods came up with the right answer this time. Not the Sheets, not the Speed Figs, not the press hype. Score one for us geezers.

08 May 2012 11:10 AM

Thanks, Steve, for the recap, including the way the horses were jostled at the start.  Even sitting in my different seat in Section 128, couldnt see much of the start but we were right there!  Our seats were ok and all I wanted was to be able to attend my 50th Derby!  Would have had the exacta if not for the winner.  Earlier in the day, I was able to pet a lead pony from our side of the fence and a worker at the starting gate gave me a handful of track that I placed in a plastic bag.  I never, not in 50 years, was able to experience those special moments.  So we will wait two weeks and see. Wonderful weekend even after having to run for cover on Oaks day.  Best of luck to all the bloggers in the Preakness and all horses come back safe.

08 May 2012 11:16 AM

steve, you swung the balance for me over to i'll have another with your report that he was galloping like a monster...thanks so much...when i saw him on the way over to the track 30 minutes before the derby, he looked like a million bucks, i started texting everyone i knew to send it in...thanks for the heads up on his gallops, you're info was better than all the other clockers out there....look forward to the preakness...all the best....

08 May 2012 11:17 AM

I respect Julien for his skills as a jockey but his 2 last rides on UR were questionable enough to find a new jockey.  Maybe Rosie if MV is not running?  I still like Edgar Prado, though I know he is not as popular these days and I do not necessarily  think of him as a good 'gate rider'.  He is a good finishing rider.

08 May 2012 11:27 AM

With the great Lava Man giving him tips on how to win big races there was really no way I'll Have Another was going to return to the barn with excuses.

08 May 2012 12:07 PM

As ALWAYS, a beautifully delivered and insightful story.  You always bring out details that may seem small by themselves but together weave undeniable flavor into the tale.  Thank you!

08 May 2012 12:22 PM
Steve Haskin

Runfast, Thank you for saying that. That's what I always set out to do, put the small pieces together to form the big picture.

I appreciate everyone's comments.

08 May 2012 12:30 PM

You are welcome Steve!

I did see also that Dr. Kendall talked with Hope as well, and that the little girl was tranfixed by the brilliant white horse.  It's go good to see players in this game step up like that.  It reminds me of what Hal Wiggins did during the Kentucky Oaks the year Rachel won it.  Still brings tears to my eyes.  The sport really is filled with amazing people from every aspect.

08 May 2012 12:38 PM

And where's Draynay in all of this,i heard he's had to hitch hike and walk home,in a pink dress!!!

08 May 2012 12:42 PM

Wow, great article, Steve! Great to relive the Derby again. Love the story of Reddam putting Gutierrez on I'll Have Another. I saw him win the Santa Anita Derby and I have never seen that many people in a winner's circle. In fact, a guy who was with Team O'Neill while trying to get to the winner's circle from the Club House area kicked me in the shoulder while he was trying to jump the fence to make it there. Crazy! But a lot of fun that day. What a great story about jockey Gutierrez! Thumbs up to Paul Reddam.

08 May 2012 1:19 PM

Great article Steve. I know how hard it is to put all that into a few paragraphs with the fear you left out something or someone or some thought.

All I can say about "I'll Have Another" at this point is I felt  he was "The MAN" after seeing the Santa Anita Derby and tried to express my sentiments then and thereafter. A "kick" like few others possess.  

Sorry, I have been responding to the old 'dozens' blog posts, and see now after this article where your attention has been.

And please get us an update on "Gemologist" and the why of his race. That would be appreciated.

OH boy, can't now wait for the Preakness.  

"Go Baby Go Baby GO !!"

08 May 2012 1:32 PM

I've been checking often to get Steve's Derby wrapup, as I knew you would have the backstory that is the hallmark of your writing style. Caught it and shared it in a FB group before I had even read it, knowing my buds would savor it as much as I. I was familiar with the elements of the story, including the sale history for this colt, but you are the master story teller, and I wanted to read your words, to get your perspective.  I think the only thing I read somewhere that you didn't mention is that when asked why the colt sold for so little, someone had said it was because he had a little conformational flaw that kept interest in him down. Always being one who is a sucker for the underdog, for the one that is overlooked, for the runt of the litter that grows up to be the top dog, I remembered that comment. Crowd-pleaser Lava Man just added more icing on the cake, to see him being recognized and acknowledged for his remarkable career was a wonderful added bonus. Thank you, Steve, for helping make this Derby a memorable one, with your pre-Derby columns, your on-track photos and background "color" analysis that never cease to inspire and entertain, as well as inform. Now, on to the Preakness! Can't wait!

08 May 2012 1:39 PM

Once again the Beyer figs prove legit. Throughout the preps they've been telling their story, but few were listening. Now they are left scratching their heads over the slowest (101 Beyer) Derby in 20 years over a lightning fast track! Trying to figure out what happened to "the best 3 year old crop since Curlin, Street Sense and Hard Spun".

A final quarter in in 26 seconds after passing a horse who blazed the way while on the deadest part of the track. The Ark was do or die for Bode because he needed the earnings. Baffert most likely had him cranked to the max, thus the 108 Beyer. 3 weeks later he comes back and outruns the fastest 3yo's

and almost hangs on going a mile and a quarter. On the bounce, (100 Beyer) this horse bested the rest.

Preakness winner? You bet!

08 May 2012 1:52 PM
Old Old Cat

Rosie for preakness jockey replacement for at least three of the horses.  She'd do a better job in her sleep.

I missed post-race wrapup.  Did anyone question why bodemeister took the bait and ran his heart out so early in the race?  I thought he ran a good preakness: get out fast, stay ahead.  But even for the preakness he would not have had to stay on the lead, only stay close.  And with his strong finish, for the derby he only needed to stay in front of the horde.  My question now about bodemeister is can he recover in two weeks?  I'd worry more about that then the jockey sprinting him the whole race, or trying some new exotic strategy.

08 May 2012 1:56 PM
Sam Santschi


As usual, another stellar Derby reporting season.  Thanks.  Post and jock inexperience kept me off IHA but it sure was exciting watching Bodemeister try and wire the field.  When I saw the splits, I was thinking no way and then he seemed to separate himself more from the pack...I felt like we might be seeing something really special. Really a nice horse with an unbelievable temperament.  Paynter is a beautiful colt also.  Shame that Alpha, DNB were nowhere but it seemed like earlier in the day that closers weren't getting the job done anyway.  Extremely happy DLL got off the rail for his and the fields' safety.  

08 May 2012 2:04 PM
Melissa P

Wonderful article, as always, Steve. This is the kind of horse-story ($11,000 horse bought by an employee who understands horses and has a boss who was willing to help turn his purchase into a Kentucky Derby Winner) that makes racing look attainable. Taking nothing away from the whole IHA "family," those who are upset with the ride given to UR are right. JL has given good - and really good - horses some truly horrendous rides. I was shocked he kept the mount after the Florida Derby. Doubt we'll see him on UR again. At least, I HOPE we don't see him on UR or any of the Barbaro brothers ever again.

08 May 2012 2:09 PM

Steve, nice job as always.  Some thoughts after watching the replays numerous times:

1) I didn't think Bodemeister had a shot at holding on after the fractions that were set. He really impressed me that he was able to hold on.  Not sure how he will do at a mile and a half, but he was sure impressive on Saturday.

2) Union Rags continues to drop in my eyes.  He got beat out of the gate by a dead closer (Dullahan) and pinched.  I've said it before, he doesn't possess enough tactical speed to keep himself out of trouble.

3) Where did Gemologist go?  He was sitting in good position and then just wilted.  Didn't expect that at all.

4) Take Charge Indy's injury cheated everyone from a fantastic stretch dual I think.  Watching the replay back he was sitting pretty into the back stretch.  Looks like he went to make his move to split Hansen on the inside with I'll Have Another on the outside.  What a stretch run that would have been...

6) Dullahan damn near nailed everyone on the wire.  Watch out Belmont.

7)  WTDW was a lot better than I thought he was.

8)  Is there any worse speed system than the Beyer number at this point?  101 for I'll Have Another?  Please...

08 May 2012 3:25 PM
Bill Two

I think a lot of the criticism of Julien Leparoux's ride is not warranted.  First of all you have a horse who is athletic enough to maneuver through a large field of horses with speed and agility.  From what Gary Stevens was saying, Union Rags apparently doesn't have that quick turn-of-foot a classic contender could really use.  That's why this horse seems to find trouble.  If you watch the Florida Derby he got pinned down on the rail and could never extricate himself from that box. If you don't think Leparoux tried to get him out of there you're selling him short.  Same thing in the Derby - he got pinched back at the start and wasn't athletic enough to get right back in the race.  See Seattle Slew's Derby run into the first turn for an example of what I'm talking about.  Rags will win some races, but he needs to compete in smaller fields to help him avoid trouble.

08 May 2012 4:27 PM
Terry M.

If there is a better turf writer out there than Steve Haskin, I'll eat my shirt. Steve, you are a credit to the Blood-Horse's long tradition of great turf coverage. You always get to the essence of every story and write it in such a beautiful manner. Well done again.

08 May 2012 4:50 PM

Hi Steve,

Even though I was not physically at Churchill this past week, you gave me the opportunity to experience it all thru your wonderful photograph's,commentary, the stories like Chris and his grandfather,the trainer, and the owners,all the things that make the derby so special and so coveted.

You have a unique perspective that only someone of your caliber can portray.

Steve, you gave me laughs, brought tears to my eyes, and the feeling that I was there.

With Kind Regards,


08 May 2012 5:15 PM
Steve Haskin

JR and Terry M, I thank you for those beautiful words. They mean a great deal.

And thanks again to everyone for your comments today and all spring and for making the Derby trail all the more interesting.

08 May 2012 5:37 PM

I was in line waiting to cash my 19-5 exacta box @ midstretch once Dully got clear and came running.  Still can't believe Bode held second after the torrid fractions.

08 May 2012 10:05 PM
Paula Higgins

Well Steve, there isn't much more I can say about your writing that  hasn't already been said except to say this is hands down the best writing about the 2012 Derby on the internet. A gem. I had IHA in my tri along with Gemologist and Creative Cause (won $100.00 from my husband lol). Didn't know which one would win, but felt that each one was solid and consistent enought to pull it off. I was very surprised that more people didn't like IHA. Maybe because he was from California, which is a really stupid reason in my opinion.  I was disappointed Gemologist didn't do better. It was very kind of Mr. ONeill to have the little girl from the Make A Wish Foundation come, sit on the horse and join in the celebration. A truly nice thing to do when you have alot on your mind. Reminds me of the folks around Zenyatta. I was not surprised about Union Rags. I felt like the distance was too much. I was very surprised about Bodemeister. I didn't think he would do as well as he did. He is a seriously good horse. I thought Mr. Zayat and Bob Baffert were class personified in the way they talked to Mike Smith and the reporters after the race. No recriminations just niceness all

around. It was so good to see Bob Baffert looking well.

08 May 2012 10:26 PM

Wow! Fantastic article, Steve!  Your words bring so much life to the stories you cover. There is so much I didn't know about IHA and his connections. Paul Reddam sounds like a guy I'd like to meet and hang out with sometime.

@Tiz Herself - Interesting perspective on Empire Maker/Funny Cide and Bode/IHA! A quick correction, though, Sackatoga Stables and Jose Santos were the owners/jockey for Funny Cide.  Cash Is King and Jeremy Rose were owners/jockey of Afleet Alex.

@Susan in VA - Lava Man did indeed run on the East Coast in the JCGC, and also at Churchill for the BC Classic.  He also raced in Japan for the Japan Dirt Cup, and in Dubai for the Dubai Duty Free Stakes. Unfortunately, all were losing efforts.  

08 May 2012 11:49 PM
Greg R

Are there any Trackus data (or similar data) on number of feet run by each horse?  Just wonder if these would show definitely that Dullahan would have finished second had he run the same distance as Bodemeister.

Steve, why does the Churchill track have to be a virtual asphalt dragstrip on Derby day?  I don't get it.  Doesn't this lead to aberrant results? Results that wouldn't have happened on any other day on the "normal" Ch. track?

Thanks for blow-byblow synopsis.

Best of luck to I'll Have Another and company. As a cookie addict, I identify with Reddam and as a racehorse admirer, I've been captivated by his horse's extraordinary, elastic stride.  If I believed in "Derby gods," I would ask, "So what would it hurt to allow a Triple Crown, already?"

08 May 2012 11:58 PM

What a great race and what a great article recounting it and those involved in the win, thankyou, Steve, again for a wonderful read.

Linda in Texas,

Please stop it now, with the Rosie on Rags....

09 May 2012 2:24 AM

Logical contenders in the super you had to step out of the box(the one that says this one cant win and and that one cant win)Foundation what is it,California horses toss yeah right.There are no rules no shortcuts they can come from anywhere and thats the way I like it the odds are generous.I know next year the foundation pundits will be back and the naysayers will diminish the chances of anything that they dont pick but I will cash again(which is my goal)just like I did this year.

09 May 2012 8:25 AM
Tiz Herself

My bad - was watching the 2005 Derby as I was writing that lol. Correcton on Funny Cide racing Sackatoga Stables and Jose Santos were the owners/jockey for Funny Cide. Was watching the other race at 2 am so didn't have thinking cap on lol.

Interesting enough is Funny Cide and I'll Have Another both have a common horse on their dam's pedigrees in Sea Bird within the first four/five. With I'll Have Another, through the dam Last Bird (4th Dam) and Danzig of course is broodmare sire for Arch, sire of Arch's Gal Edith. For Funny Cide, Sea Bird is the sire of Little Current, broodmare sire of Belle's Good Cide.

09 May 2012 8:59 AM
Tiz Herself

Preakness should set up to be a good one, too. As always there are fresh horses coming in and will be interesting to see how many come out of the Derby and go to the Preakness.

IHA of course will root for as hope to one day be able to witness a Triple Crown winner. Dullahan, Went the Day Well, Hansen (I hope he came out of the Derby okay, he looked like he went swimming before he loaded into the gate, Isn't He Clever, Teeth of The Dog (not sure what to think of this guy yet), Creative Cause, Bode of course, Tiger Walk, Paynter. Cozzetti's got so much promise in him, too.

09 May 2012 9:05 AM
Linda in Texas

predict, just a suggestion and i now am reading others calling for a different jockey also.

Matz held his tongue when interviewed. I can only imagine what he was wanting to say but was  gentleman enough not to.

The ride was a disaster from the beginning and the jockey did not follow directions. He did it his way. I am not alone in my comments.

You got something against Rosie?

09 May 2012 9:48 AM
The Deacon

I'll Have Another was 15-1, amazing I think he should have been 7-1 or 8-1. Why, two reasons, his jockey and he races on the west coast. Watching Mario Gutierrez masterful ride kind of brought back some memories. If any other jockey rides IHA then his odds are down. For those who remember no one thought Steve Cauthen should be on Affirmed, too inexperienced, he will surely cost the horse the Triple Crown. Then before that there was Jean Cruguet on Seattle Slew, who was a good jockey but throughout the racing world I read about writers and horseman saying the connections needed to upgrade with a better rider. In 1979 Ron Franklin rode Spectacular Bid to a Derby win, same thing occured. Later on Shoemaker would take over on the "Bid".

Super Mario proved to me that he can ride with the best of them. He is a great story and I hope he can get the Triple Crown. Maybe a star was born last Saturday........

09 May 2012 12:21 PM
Rachel NH

Deepest and most talented fields in history? No way...!

I'll just go back 10 years...I'll use one measuring stick, the arguable "Beyer"...and one standard, the number of horses with Triple Beyer.

2003- 12

2004 - 16

2005- 9

2006- 12

2007- 9

2008- 7

2009- 8

2010- 3

2011- 2

2012- 4

That makes it the deepest, talented field in three years. ;-)

09 May 2012 1:15 PM

  It was a great Derby but the best part for me was reading about my old favorite, Lava Man.  It is gratifying to know how much he is appreciated and that he is having a happy life.  I bet he bragged about his exploits to I'll Have Another, who is now going to tease Lava Man about having won OUTSIDE of California!

  Poor Hansen.  I don't think he needs to run in the Preakness, he needs a break.  And when he returns, please, no dye jobs or show girls!

09 May 2012 1:37 PM
Mister Frisky

Linda in Texas,Go to DRF .com,Matz said the only two minutes he couldn't control were a disaster.He told Juli be 3 or 4 out of the first turn.Rags was 18th.He will never get close to Rags again.

09 May 2012 2:13 PM

Steve, as JR and Terry M have mentioned earlier, I wish to thank-you for breathing life into the Kentucky Derby through your writing. Over the past 30 years, at least in the USA, Romanticism in turf writing has, unfortunately,  been replaced with a form of sterile empiricism.

Evidence the rise, and arguably fall, of the Dosage Profile/Index, then the rise of Beyer figures and Trackus data etc with reference to how the 'modern' scribes are influenced on how to report. There isn't a lot of beauty to be gained by mathematical figures/formulas and racing is the most beautiful of sports. By the way, I am not decrying that these 'theories' don't have their place either.

Anyway, thanks again Steve, and onward to the Preakness.

09 May 2012 4:55 PM
El Kabong

Another Cookie!

This is the only place you would find such detailed reporting. The more popular version will remain the favored version for many concerning his name but not for  your fans Steve. We'll know. Now, I'll still order my second Martini with that phrase and think of the 138th running of the Derby. That I can't help.

Reddam's remark about  Mario and My Old Kentucky home was priceless. The twinkle in his eye was a nice touch. He is a very charismatic man and that was very funny because it was so true. I was impressed with Mr. Reddam and Mr. O'Neil for using and sticking with Mario. He deserved this break and showed his talent in the SA Derby. He has ice in his veins and doesn't get intimidated by anything-like Garcia. When Rosario hit the gas on CC and went past him in the turn for home, he stayed cool and didn't move IHA until he was ready. That was a pivotal point in my decision to play this horse seriously in my wagers as the best stalker in the race.

Great story. Thanks again.

09 May 2012 5:13 PM

Brilliant article and analysis of the Derby Steve.  Love the title, IHA definitely is the Cookie Monster.  You did say he was the strongest galloper at Churchill.  I did pretty good judging this field, I had Bode first and IHA second, fearing he would be too wide out of 19, and they came in reverse.  I liked the California horses all along and this is another big plus for California racing.  Although I love Hansen I did not think he could win and he looked awfully rank going into the clubhouse turn. I hope TCIndy is ok after his surgery.

Excited about the Preakness, bring it on!  If IHA does this, then I stand at Belmont Park with a Triple on the line!!!!!!!!

09 May 2012 7:09 PM

Nothing against Rosie, I believe her to be one of the best in the business, and I'm sure most would agree. Her ride in the Oaks was one of the best I have seen and she deserves her chance on any Derby horse, for I believe it would be the horse and not her that would be the reason for a loss, as she would give what ever it took to put a horse in the winner's circle. I don't know why Julien rode Rags the way he did, but I believe that there was no way Rags would have won that race no matter who rode him, he is a good grade III horse and that's about it, I doubt he will win a Grade I in the future if he faces any truly Grade I level horses. Rosie deserves better.

09 May 2012 7:13 PM

Can someone tell me how to calculate Union Rags' time from the quarter pole to the wire?  I am curious to know how fast he ran his final quarter mile.

09 May 2012 9:11 PM

Thanks Steve for a fantastic wrap-up.  As I read your story, I could picture your scenes like you were wearing a camera on your hat.  It put me right into the story.

Thanks also for all your hard work with the training comments and pictures.  Your analysis of I'll Have Another's pedigree is what helped me put him in.  This was the hardest field for me to narrow down to five and you certainly helped.  I hit the ex  and the tri with my 5 boxed and that will cover our trip to the Belmont.

One more thing, if I get back for a Derby and you and Lenny do your "And They're Off", Kentucky Derby Edition from the paddock, I'll pay top dollar for a front row seat.  That was hilarious and informative.  You guys don't take yourselves seriously, you keep it fun, the way it should be.

Thanks again, Steve, for all you do for racing fans and the industry.  

10 May 2012 12:55 AM
Union Buster


"rags" crawled home in 26 flat. He was not "flying" home like some think.

10 May 2012 9:28 AM

Frisky: I wasn't referring to your opinion of Leparoux, which many agree with; I was referring to a single word that insulted an entire country.  It was uncalled for and distasteful.

Sweatman: Bode wasn't chasing Trinniberg.  Bodemeister took the lead and Trinni was chasing him.  In a post-race interview, Baffert said they planned to just let Bodemeister run his race, and they would not have tried to rate him since it's simply not his style.  

For my own part, I wondered why Alpha's connections did not pick up Rosie as their jockey since she was free once Mark Valeski was scratched.  I think she's one of the best jockeys today.  

Union Rags had several different jockeys, and each time UR got himself into trouble during the course of the race. He's a strong and willful horse who doesn't want to run between other horses.

10 May 2012 2:16 PM

     The Gr. I   1 $million

    Pim -5/19/09 Race #12

 137th Maryland PREAKNESS Stakes


time: :23.79;:47.68;1:11.72;

         1:36.69; 1:55.94;

  [[1:57.50 rough time expected]];

  winner: "I’ll Have Another":

          3-1   (7-   5-1-0)

    2nd "Bodemeister": (Va.):  

+ a neck   2-1   (6-   2-4-0)

    3rd "Creative Cause":            + 8 ¾      6-1  (10-   4-2-3)  

    4th "Zetterholm":                +15       21-1   (6-   3-1-0)

    5th "Teeth of the Dog";

+ 15 & a neck;

         16-1   (5-   1-1-2)

also ran:

"Optimizer"        23-1  + 17 ¼ ;

"Cozzetti"         27-1  + 19 ½ ;

"Tiger Walk"       23-1; + 22 ¾ ;

"Daddy Nose Best"  11-1  + 26;

"Went the Day Well" 6-1  + 29 ¾ ;

&"Pretension"       34-1 11th & last;

late scratches: none;

Order of Finish:


WIN   $8.40  $3.20  $2.80 #9

PLACE        $3.20  $2.80 #7

SHOW                $3.60 #6

$1   Exacta       $9.30

$1 Trifecta      $35.40

$1    Super     $212.15

$1 High Five


20 May 2012 5:37 AM

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