As the weekend approaches and horse racing enthusiasts descend on Churchill Downs, study the odds, and place their bets on the Kentucky Derby, many will keep a close eye on one of the favorites for the race, Bodemeister, trained by the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
According to The Washington Post, Bodemeister did not make his career debut until this January, and no horse has won the Derby without running as a 2-year-old since 1882.
However, Baffert has trained horses that won the Derby three times since 1997, joining only four others on the list of all-time Derby-winning trainers, according to The Post.
"In the racing game today, Baffert is the undisputed master at preparing horses for the Triple Crown series. Besides his Derby successes, he has recorded five victories in the Preakness and one in the Belmont Stakes," said The Post.
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Less than two months ago, on March 26, Baffert suffered a heart attack in Dubai and had to have three stents placed in his arteries. Even while he was being wheeled in to surgery, Baffert relayed training instructions to his wife concerning Bodemeister, reported USA Today.
Bodemeister's owner, Ahmed Zayat, said, "He is a perfectionist. After a workout, he'll be looking at a horse for 20 or 30 minutes. I say, 'What are you looking at?' He pays attention to every, every detail. He's so gifted, it isn't even funny," according to USA Today.
Bodemeister, named for Baffert's son Bode, did not make it to the race track as a two-year-old, according to Reuters. But that didn't stop him from winning the Arkansas Derby on April 14 by nine and a half lengths, even without the still-recovering Baffert by his side.
Baffert said of Bodemeister, "So far, he looks good."
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Here's a video Bodemeister being put through his paces, via USA Today: