Saturday's G2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs features a well-matched field of 9 late-bloomers, up-and-comers and hope-he-cans looking for the winner's share of the $500,000 purse.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert sends Blueskiesnrainbows to the Bossier City oval off of a win July 4th in the G2 Swaps stakes at Santa Anita. The bay son of English Channel showed promise earlier in the year when finishing 3rd behind eventual Kentucky Derby hero I'll Have Another. He then tested his turf hoof on Derby day in the G2 American Turf, where he finished a non-threatening 9th to Silver Max. With the loss of stable stars Bodemeister and Paynter to injury and illness, it is up to the second flight to lead the way through the fall championship season. Blueskiesnrainbows is a fine candidate for the task. He should take the 1 1/8 mile distance easily, and the speed-favoring track should suit his frontrunning style. Louisiana native Joe Talamo has the call to ride in this homecoming - Talamo won his first race at Louisiana Downs in 2006. On the plane with Blueskiesnrainbows is Derby trail veteran Rousing Sermon. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee was last seen running a good second August 3 in the Real Good Deal stakes for Cal-breds at Del Mar. This late runner was helped by master closing rider Mike Smith, who returns to ride him again Saturday.
The mysterious Fly Lexus Fly has made only one start since arriving in Neil Drysdale's barn from Peru, a lackluster 5th in the G2 Cougar II at Del Mar July 27. He may have simply needed the experience in California, but it's tough to know just how good he really is. Martin Garcia will make the trip to ride.
Also shipping in for the race is G2 Louisiana Derby upsetter Hero of Order. The near-black son of Awesome Again shocked the Derby trail with his front-running score in the New Orleans prep but has done little since then despite having numerous chances. Trained by Gennadi Dorochenko, Hero of Order has shown up in stakes races like the Iowa Derby and West Virginia Derby, with allowance tune-ups in between. He will be near the lead with Blueskiesnrainbows under jockey Donald Simington.
Bourbon Courage, second in the West Virginia Derby August 4, tries for a win here. The son of Lion Heart ran well to close alongside Macho Macho in that race, falling only a half-length short of the win. He is trained by Kellyn Gorder and will be ridden by Leandro Goncalves.
The top four in the Super Derby Prelude August 4 are back to take on the new shooters.
Prelude winner Key Donation will try to score the Prelude-Derby double on Saturday for trainer Tom Amoss and owner Maggie Moss. Key Donation's strong run in the Prelude should not be underestimated, especially with the hot pace projected. He will be ridden by Louisiana Downs leading jockey Richard Eramia.
Trainer Al Stall, who trained 2010 winner Apart and 2009 runner-up, Blame, sends Tensas Cold Front. Second in the Super Derby Prelude, this LA-bred son of War Front will be among the pace pressers. He will be ridden by Mark Guidry.
Mr. Bluegrass Music ran third in the Super Derby Prelude for trainer Richard Jackson. The well-bred son of Bluegrass Cat had good position throughout the race, but never advanced. Chris Landeros has the ride in the Super Derby.
Master Rick, trained by Steve Asmussen, was the beaten favorite in the Prelude. Setting the pace under pressure from Tensas Cold Front, Master Rick relenquished the lead late and held on for 4th. Gerard Melancon rides.
Post time for the G2 Super Derby is 5:10 Central.
-- Candice Curtis