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Bodemiester, Union Rags Made Top Favorites in Kentucky Derby

Bodemeister, trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, was installed as the 4-1 favorite for the 138th Kentucky Derby, with Michael Matz’s Union Rags close behind at 9-2.

Todd Pletcher’s Gemologist, the only undefeated runner in the May 5 race, was give 6-1 morning line odds yesterday by Churchill Downs handicapper Mike Battaglia.

Bodemeister, who began his racing career in January, will try to become the first horse that was unraced as a juvenile to win the 1 1/4-mile (2 kilometer) Derby since Apollo in 1882. The three-year-old colt will leave the gate from the sixth post position.

“I was relieved that he didn’t get the one hole,” Baffert said. “I just didn’t want to be stuck on the rail, like I was with Lookin at Lucky and had that horrible feeling. I think all the good horses drew really well for this race. It’s going to be very competitive.”

Battaglia, who has been giving the early odds since 1975, said he made Bodemeister the favorite because of the colt’s “so much superior victory in the Arkansas Derby,” which the three-year-old won by 9 1/2 lengths.

Bodemeister, owned by Ahmed Zayat’s stables, was named for the son of Baffert, who has been recovering from surgery following a heart attack during his stay in Dubai for the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Not So Bad

Union Rags, with Julien Leparoux aboard, will leave from the fourth gate. Matz initially was ambivalent about his post draw.

“We’re going to have him run out of there a little bit, but that’s not the worst thing in the world,” said Matz, trainer of undefeated Barbaro, who won the 2006 Derby before breaking down in the Preakness Stakes. “My original thought was that I wasn’t crazy about it, but where everybody is, I don’t think it’s so bad.”

Gemologist, ridden by Javier Castellano, drew the 15th post position. Pletcher’s second entry, El Padrino, is 20-1, leaving from the 16th gate.

“Perfect. It worked out perfect,” Pletcher said. “I love the 15, the first one in the auxiliary gate. There’s a little space there. He’s outside all the speed. They’re both together, so it makes it easier in the paddock.”

‘Borel Factor’

Take Charge Indy was given lower odds of 15-1 by Battaglia because of the “Borel factor.” Calvin Borel won a record third Derby in four years in 2010 aboard Super Saver. Known for hugging the rail, he won the 2009 race with 50-1 Mine That Bird and in 2007 with Street Sense. Take Charge Indy and Borel will start from the No. 3 post position.

Hansen, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile for two-year-olds, drew the 14th post position and was placed fifth with 10-1 odds behind Dullahan, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes, an 8-1 chance running from the fifth gate.

Trainer H. Graham Motion, who had last year’s Derby long-shot winner Animal Kingdom that ran from the 16th gate, will see Went The Day Well leaving the 13th post position at 20-1 odds.

“We chose the same prep race we did for Animal Kingdom to get us here,” Motion said. “We didn’t have a lot of earnings to get in the Derby so we picked a race we could win. I would have taken lucky 16. Anybody who says no luck is involved is crazy.”

The race had 21 entrants for the 20 available positions. My Adonis, trained by Kelly Breen, will move into the 20th post position if one of the contenders withdraws by 9 a.m. May 4.

PP Horse             Jockey             Trainer             Odds
 1 Daddy Long Legs   Colm O’Donoghue    Aiden O’Brien       30-1
 2 Optimizer         Jon Court          D. Wayne Lukas      50-1
 3 Take Charge Indy  Calvin Borel       Patrick Byrne       15-1
 4 Union Rags        Julien Leparoux    Michael Matz         9-2
 5 Dullahan          Kent Desormeaux    Dale Romans          8-1
 6 Bodemeister       Mike Smith         Bob Baffert          4-1
 7 Rousing Sermon    Jose Lezcano       Jerry Hollendorfer  50-1
 8 Creative Cause    Joel Rosario       Mike Harrington     12-1
 9 Trinniberg        Willie Martinez    Bisnath Parboo      50-1
10 Daddy Nose Best   Garrett Gomez      Steve Asmussen      15-1
11 Alpha             Rajiv Maragh       Kiaran McLaughlin   15-1
12 Prospective       Luis Contraras     Mark Casse          30-1
13 Went The Day Well John Velazquez     H. Graham Motion    20-1
14 Hansen            Ramon Dominguez    Mike Maker          10-1
15 Gemologist        Javier Castellano  Todd Pletcher        6-1
16 El Padino         Rafael Bejarano    Todd Pletcher       20-1
17 Done Talking      Sheldon Russell    Hamilton Smith      50-1
18 Sabercat          Corey Nakatani     Steve Asmussen      30-1
19 I’ll Have Another Mario Gutierrez    Doug O’Neill        12-1
20 Liaison           Martin Garcia      Bob Baffert         50-1

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