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Saturday, May 19, 2012
Wearing a bull's-eye


BALTIMORE, Md. -- It's been a long time between drinks for me at the Preakness, but I remember like it was yesterday: Prairie Bayou, 1993, my first Triple Crown Classic win. It'd be extra special to get it again -- not only because I've been pretty close in the last few years, but since it's a chance for Bodemeister to redeem himself.

I've hit the board in the past three years. Astrology and Jackson Bend were third in 2011 and 2010, while Mine That Bird closed for second in 2009. Giacomo was third in 2005, Lion Heart was fourth in 2004 and Proud Citizen was third in 2002, so I've definitely gotten a fair share of the action -- but just the one win in 13 attempts.

Someone asked me about the difference between track surfaces at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs, and which one is more like Pimlico. I'd have to say that Oaklawn resembles Pimlico more -- and that could be a good thing, since Bodemeister won the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn by 9½ lengths. He ran extremely well there and earned the highest Beyer speed figure of his career.

Churchill is more of a clay-based track, it doesn't have as much substance to it. Although it's very kind, at times it can get just a little bit cuppy. Pimlico is a little bit deeper. When a horse like Bode gets a hold of it, he could be just a little bit better -- he can get into the dirt a little more.

Someone else asked what the hardest part was to riding Bodemeister in the Derby. There wasn't necessarily a hard part to riding him, but one thing I wish was different was the outcome, of course. I wish we could've gotten away with a little easier pace in the middle of the race. The first part I knew was going to be really fast -- the first quarter. After that, I was hoping at some point to get a good breather, and I didn't really get a chance to.

People think I'll have a bull's-eye on my back, but there actually might be a few more bull's-eyes in this race. Some horses came out of the Derby with some rough trips that ran extremely well, Went the Day Well being one of them. People are obviously going to respect I'll Have Another a whole lot more. So I'm not necessarily going to be the only bull's-eye.

As far as Bodemeister is concerned, he's always pretty forward. There's nothing we want to change compared to the Derby, really, other than hopefully at some point we'll get a breather. The pace is still going to be quick, you know; he's not going to get away with splits of 24 seconds and 49 seconds. He's going to run fast because he is fast. What I believe he needs to do is run his race again. If he does that, he's going to be very difficult to run down.

The Arkansas Derby and the Kentucky Derby are the only two times I've been on this horse. I know that he was a bit aggressive earlier in his career. He seems to have grown up from that. Even in the Derby, he was so calm and collected. He stood in the gate extremely well, and we hope he does that again. It's just a matter of him getting his opportunities. He's a good horse and he's going to be tough to run down.