Soul Warrior has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite for the 30th running of the $750,000 Super Derby (gr. II) Sept. 19 at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City.
There are isolated thunderstorms in the forecast for the biggest day of the year at Louisiana Downs. The Super Derby goes as the 11th race and is one of six stakes worth more than $1.2 million on the program.
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A field of seven for the 1 1/8-mile headline event for 3-year-olds includes Regal Ransom, who is set for his first start since finishing eighth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). Uno Mas, winner of the Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs Aug. 15, and Massone, third in Keeneland's Blue Grass (gr. I) in April, are also entered.
But Soul Warrior and Regal Ransom figure to get most of the attention from bettors.
Soul Warrior, owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, drew post 2 for his first start since winning the West Virginia Derby (gr. II) by a neck at Mountaineer Park Aug. 1. The good-looking son of Lion Heart was the morning line favorite for the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Sept. 7, but was scratched the morning of the race. He has one published workout since then, a five-furlong breeze on the Saratoga training track Sept. 14 in 1:02.
At odds of 23-1, Soul Warrior defeated both Big Drama and Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in the West Virginia Derby, patiently rallying for his first stakes win. He has won three of seven starts with two seconds and has earned $589,720.
John Velazquez will be aboard the chestnut colt for the first time and they will break from post 2.
Asmussen also entered Uno Mas, who defeated Super Derby rivals Electric Alphabet and Red Lead in a blanket finish to the 1 1/16-mile Prelude. That was the first stakes win for the son of Macho Uno , who is owned by Cathy and Bob Zollars and Mark Wagner. Shane Sellers, who rode the bay colt for the first time in the Prelude, will be aboard once again.
The big question in this year's Super Derby is how Godolphin's Regal Ransom will come back after a 4 1/2-month layoff since his effort in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 14 3/4 lengths behind Mine That Bird. The son of Distorted Humor worked brilliantly all summer at Saratoga and was being considered for the Pennsylvania Derby before it was decided he was not quite ready.
In his most recent work, Regal Ransom breezed five furlongs at Belmont Park Sept. 14 in :59 2/5. Richard Migliore, who takes over the mount on Regal Ransom, was aboard for the move, the fifth-fastest of 37 that day.
Regal Ransom upset his stablemate, Desert Party , in winning the UAE Derby (UAE-II) in March, giving his connections the confidence to try him in the Derby. Regal Ransom pressed the pace while racing slightly off the rail but gave way in the stretch. Regal Ransom, who breaks from post 4 in the Super Derby, has a 2-2-0 mark in six starts with earnings of $1,297,200.
Blame , a son of Arch conditioned by Albert Stall for Adele B. Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm, comes off a win in his stakes debut in the 1 1/8-mile Curlin over a "good" track at Saratoga Aug. 2. He tallied by three-quarters of a length over Gone Astray , who returned to win the Pennsylvania Derby. Blame has back-to-back wins this summer for Stall.
Southern California-based Massone has been graded stakes-placed in three of four tries, but his only victory over winners came in his last start, a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming allowance race on the Del Mar turf Aug. 16 that he won by two lengths. Besides the Blue Grass, he has been third in both the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Golden Gate Fields and the Cinema Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park turf. Ron McAnally trains for Frankfurt Stable and the chestnut son of Menifee will be ridden again by Garrett Gomez.
Red Lead, trained by Brandon Bridges for Frontier Stables, is another who is seeking his first stakes win. Besides the Prelude, in which he led in the stretch but was nipped in an all-out finish, the Red Bullet gelding also ran third in the Iowa Derby. He was runner-up in the Lone Star Derby (gr. III) before that.
Fast-improving Electric Alphabet has only a maiden win to show in five starts, including three seconds. The Clifford Grum homebred son of Alphabet Soup takes another big step for trainer Cecil Borel following his game runner-up effort in the Prelude. That race followed his maiden-breaking score in the slop at Churchill Downs July 5.
$750,000 Super Derby (gr. II, Race 11, 5:12 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Red Lead (FL), F C Torres, B M Bridges
2. Soul Warrior (KY), J R Velazquez, S M Asmussen
3. Massone (KY), G K Gomez, R L McAnally
4. Regal Ransom (KY), R Migliore, S bin Suroor
5. Blame (KY), J Theriot, A M Stall, Jr.
6. Uno Mas (KY), S J Sellers, S M Asmussen
7. Electric Alphabet (KY), D E Simington, C P Borel
Each carries 124 pounds.