Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Smith [Print without images]

Friday, April 27, 2012
The Derby hunger


The more I think back to Bodemeister's performance in the Arkansas Derby, the more I'm looking forward to riding him in the Kentucky Derby.

Bodemeister was just super in Arkansas, he really was. I knew that we couldn't afford to leave anything to chance that day -- he needed to win the race to secure enough graded earnings to make the Derby field. When we turned for home, and I took a quick look back and saw Secret Circle about a length and a half off of us, I asked Bodemeister for run. His acceleration was instant and powerful. We quickly opened up that huge lead, and as you know he ended up winning by 9 lengths. His time of 1:48.71 was more than a second faster than Alternation ran in winning the Oaklawn Handicap 30 minutes earlier. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

So now it's on to Kentucky. I'm glad I got the chance to ride this horse before the Derby. I've gotten to know him a little bit now, and that's always a plus. He's pretty straightforward, though. He's not very quirky.

That's a huge credit to Bob Baffert. Bob's horses are always prepared when they walk into the gate. I don't ride for Bob a whole lot, but when I have, we've usually been successful. We've always enjoyed a great working relationship. Earlier in the year, I was asking him, "When do I get to play, coach?" He told me, "Sit tight for a little bit." I did, and it paid off. I came right from the bench into the winners' circle of a Grade 1 race.

There's been a lot of talk about the pace in this Derby, and how Bodemeister figures into it. All I can say is that he's a naturally quick horse. Of course, we'd love it if the first half-mile is run in 48 seconds or so. But I don't know if that's going to happen. There are a number of really fast horses in here. A lot of it is going to depend on where we draw.

It's been seven years since I won the Derby on Giacomo in 2005. But Bodemeister definitely represents my best chance to take home the Roses since then. If you can believe it, my desire to win the Derby has actually grown over the past seven years. Right now, I'm kind of thinking that I'd like to ride at least five more years. Still, I know I won't be able to ride forever. And chances to win the Derby only come along every so often. I'm going to do my best to take advantage.

Tuesday, I have a very special day planned to kind of kick off an exciting Derby week. I'm going out to see Zenyatta's baby boy at Lane's End and I'm very excited -- I haven't had a chance to get out there to see him yet. They still haven't named him, and I'm anxious to find out what that will be. I'll check back in with you after my visit.