One horse is the big favorite, the other is looking to make history. Al Dannity breaks down the big stories at the 2012 Kentucky Derby.
Racing’s White Whale has four hooves
It’s never happened. Not even once. In the storied history of Churchill Downs the Horse Racing world has never seen a grey take the win. There has been no shortage of contenders and this year all hopes rest on a +1400 shot, hungry to make history. The colt’s name is Hansen, not to be confused with the band of Mmmbop infamy. This is a champion, a thoroughbred built for success. Only it’s never faced quite this much pressure before.
Though referred to as a grey, it’s the white coat of Hansen that will fascinate fans this weekend. It’s the reason we talk about Hansen more than Alpha, Daddy Nose Best, or Take Charge Indy. All these horses share Hansen’s +1400 price but none share the burden of history. The expectation, the potential Hollywood level fame that would come with a win.
Frank Deford crafted a great piece on why these are the horses that catch our eye on race day. It’s not like they are black sheep in the way they stand out from the crowd. It’s their symbolism through history and legend. From Pegasus of Greek mythology to Silver, the Lone Ranger’s steed. Something within us yearns to see these pillars of purity triumph at the track.
About the front runner
Much as the mystique of Hansen is alluring, there’s no denying that Bodemeister will be the favorite on Saturday. Priced at +400, the favorite drew the #6 post, a position from which 6 winners have started. Trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, Bodemeister dominated in the Arkansas Derby with a 9 ½ length victory. “At least we’re in a position where we have a good chance of winning,” Baffert said. “If I got the one-hole I would be thinking they just don’t want me to win this Derby. After Lookin At Lucky, when he got the one-hole, the excitement just left me because I knew he had too much to overcome.” This would prove a particularly emotional win for Baffert, who survived a recent heart attack. With Bodemeister named for his son Bode, a win at Churchill Downs would be quite the recuperation gift.
For the full scoop on the Kentucky Derby, check out our Outta the Gates infographic. With the 5 commandments of the Derby and a breakdown of Millionaire’s Row vs. the Infield, it’s the fastest way to become au fait with all things Kentucky Derby.
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