Named for trainer Bob Baffert's son Bode, the Empire Maker colt emerged as a Kentucky Derby prospect with three solid performances at Santa Anita Park. He was second in his debut in a sprint on January 16. When Baffert stretched him out to a mile around two turns on February 11, he cleared the field from his outside post, relaxed on the lead, then ran away from the others in the final half-mile to win by 9¼ lengths. He came back to run a strong second to Creative Cause in the 1 1/16 miles San Felipe on March 10.
Bodemeister set a blistering early pace in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and powered to a commanding advantage in early stretch of the first jewl of the U.S. Triple Crown, but he could not hold off the determined, late surge of I'll Have Another and finished second.