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Kentucky Derby: Six horses to watch

Jockey Mike Smith rides Bodemeister to win the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park during the Racing Festival of The South on April 14, 2012 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Bodemeister (Opening odds: 4-1)

(CBS/AP) The 4-1 morning-line favorite is trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert. While the trainer is recovering from a heart attack, his bay colt comes into the Derby off an eye-opening, wire-to-wire 9 1/2-length romp in the Arkansas Derby. Expect the bay colt to be on or close to the lead from the get-go under jockey Mike Smith. Bodemeister will break from the No. 6 gate. The Hall of Fame rider won the 2005 Derby aboard 50-1 shot Giacomo. The colt is named for Baffert's 7-year-old son, Bode, who is named for skier Bode Miller.

It's the third time the Hall of Fame trainer has had the early Derby favorite. The first two didn't work out. Lookin At Lucky drew the inside post in 2010, got trapped along the rail and finished sixth. In 2001, Point Given was the heavy favorite and wound up fifth. He went on to win the Preakness and Belmont stakes, the final two legs of the Triple Crown.

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"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."

Baffert had a heart attack on March 26 in Dubai. "I just hope I have a chance to get my heart rate going turning for home," said Baffert, whose War Emblem was the last wire-to-wire Derby winner in 2002.

Kentucky Derby: Six horses to watch

Kentucky Derby entrant Union Rags during his bath after a morning workout at Churchill Downs Friday, May 4, 2012, in Louisville, Ky. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Union Rags (Opening odds: 9-2)

His stock is rising again based on strong workouts following a third-place finish in the Florida Derby. The big bay colt - he measures nearly 17 hands (that's about 68 inches tall) - is the 9-2 second choice, and trained by Michael Matz. Of course, Matz was the trainer of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, who tragically broke down after the start of the Preakness and was euthanized eight months later. Union Rags, who won the Fountain of Youth in his only other start this year, should stalk the pace out of the No. 4 post and be just behind the leaders before jockey Julien Leparoux makes his move for the front.

Matz sees the same promising signs from Union Rags, who is using the same stall as Barbaro.

"They're both big, good-looking, fast and athletic. Union Rags still has to live up to what Barbaro did," Matz said.

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Matz and owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson all rode a roller coaster of emotion during Barbaro's eight-month fight that had the public rooting for his survival from the hoof infection that developed after he broke his leg in the opening strides of the Preakness two weeks after the Derby. Just when the colt seemed on the mend, another surgery would be needed and their hopes would sag again.

Late in 2006, the trio won the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic with Round Pond, but their good luck ran out two months later when Barbaro was euthanized.

"He captured a lot of people's hearts," Matz said.

Kentucky Derby: Six horses to watch

Exercise rider Hector Ramos takes Kentucky Derby entrant Gemologist for a workout at Churchill Downs Thursday, May 3, 2012, in Louisville, Ky. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Gemologist (Opening odds: 6-1)

He's the lone undefeated horse in the field with a 5-0 record, including a powerful run in the Wood Memorial where he took the lead and held off Alpha. Nearly as tall as Union Rags, the son of 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow has not been battle-tested like others in the field. However, he has won twice at Churchill Downs. Leaving from the No. 15 post, the colt should be running just behind the front pack and have a clear shot at the leaders when the field turns for home.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said the horse's even approach during work reminds him of another superstar - Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

"To me, he's been Mr. Consistency so far," Pletcher said.

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Gemologist has been largely untested, topping Alpha and Optimizer in prep races. Those horses fell apart against high-level competition such as Union Rags.

WinStar Farm president Elliott Walden said that he's not concerned about a lack of respect for the Tiznow colt.

"He's undefeated. That's special in and of itself," Walden said. "That could change, obviously, this is the toughest race he's going to be in and every race up to this has been a stepping stone where horses have been separated by region mainly and you bring them all together and it creates that `cream of the cream' and we'll see what happens Saturday."

Gemologist never trailed in his first start in Louisville, then came from behind in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to top Ever So Lucky, which dropped off the Derby trail earlier this month.

Kentucky Derby: Six horses to watch

Hansen, riden by Ramon Dominguez, wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile during the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs on November 5, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Hansen (Opening odds: 10-1)

The horse is impossible to miss - he's almost white, and he's almost sure to be in the lead along with sprinter Trinniberg. The colt who carries the family name of owner Kendall Hansen breaks from a favorable No. 14 post, where the nation's leading jockey, Ramon Dominguez, can gauge the front-runners and try to keep the speedster fresh for the stretch run. Hansen could be a handful - he won his first two races by a combined 25 1/2 lengths, beat Union Rags in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, won the Gotham Stakes and ran second in the Blue Grass in his last race.

In a Derby loaded with speed horses, Hansen and Dominguez could let others vie for the early lead.

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"I think Trinniberg, probably coming off those sprint races, has got to be the speed of the speed," trainer Mike Maker said. "Stranger things have happened, but we won't handcuff Ramon and whatever happens when they leave the gate we'll leave it up to Ramon. I would say on paper that Trinniberg and Bodemeister will be sitting there and hopefully we can sit behind them."

Hansen has the most graded stakes earnings in the field, with more than $1.5 million.

Kentucky Derby: Six horses to watch

Jockey Calvin Borel takes Kentucky Derby entrant Take Charge Indy for a morning workout at Churchill Downs Wednesday, May 2, 2012, in Louisville, Ky. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Take Charge Indy (Opening odds: 15-1)

With Calvin Borel in the saddle, Take Charge Indy cannot be counted out. Plus, the wire-to-wire

Florida Derby winner drew the No. 3 post, a wonderful place for Borel to begin one of his patented rail-running rides to the winner's circle. By the way, Borel has won the Derby three of the past five years. On pedigree alone, this colt merits attention: He's a son of A.P. Indy, with bloodlines going through Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew.

Having Borel in the saddle gives trainer Patrick Byrne added confidence.

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"Everyone knows there is going to be a lot of speed," Byrne said. "Calvin can put his horse wherever he wants. It's all up to the jock. I've done my bit. Calvin has won three of these. This is my first time here. I'm not going to tell him how to ride the race."

This will be Take Charge Indy's second race at Churchill Downs, having run fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall. He was a late arrival here, flying in from Florida on Tuesday.

Kentucky Derby: Six horses to watch

Exercise rider Zeke Castro takes Kentucky Derby entrant Went the Day Well for a workout at Churchill Downs Wednesday, May 2, 2012, in Louisville, Ky. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Went the Day Well (Opening odds: 20-1)

Team Valor International founder Barry Irwin enjoyed anonymity on and off the track until his syndicate's horse, Animal Kingdom, came up with a surprising win in last year's Kentucky Derby.

Trainer Graham Motion joked that he remains unknown, something that was apparent last week when the attendant at the car rental company asked him if he'd ever been to the Derby before.

Indeed. The winner's circle, too.

Now the two are back with Went the Day Well. With jockey John Velazquez again on board, the trio is looking to become the first jockey-trainer-owner combination to win the Derby in consecutive years since 1972-73, when Ron Turcotte, Lucien Laurin and Meadow Farm pulled it off with Riva Ridge and Secretariat.

Kentucky Derby: Bodemeister is early 4-1 favorite
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So far, they've done nearly everything the same for Saturday's race with their precocious and sometimes petulant bay colt, who often looks lousy in practice and then turns it on when the competition heats up.

The son of Proud Citizen was winless in two starts in England last year, but finished fourth in his first race in the U.S. before consecutive victories capped by the Spiral Stakes.

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