Owner Greg Norman and trainer Salvador Gonzalez figured they had the speed edge heading into the 1 1/4-mile Super Derby (gr. II). That advantage was the difference as The Daddy held off A.P. Arrow in the $750,000 test for 3-year-olds at Louisiana Downs Saturday.
The Daddy, stretching out from the seven-furlong King's Bishop where he tired after chasing Lost in the Fog and finished fourth, was tiring late. But a three-length lead in the stretch served the New York-bred son of Valid Expectations
well in the closing stage. Under 17-year-old apprentice jockey Pablo Morales of Peru, The Daddy won by a neck in 2:03.
"I can't believe it," said Morales, a New York-based rider who said the Super Derby was only his 26th career victory. "Not too many bug riders can win a Derby."
The final time was well off the stakes and track record of 1:59 4/5 set by Tiznow in 2000.
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained A.P. Arrow, who lacked room on the far turn, got free in the stretch and made a bold move to narrowly miss under Corey Lanerie. Nolan's Cat, with John Jacinto aboard, finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind.
Royal Saint fell in the stretch, dislodging jockey Guy Smith. Initial reports said that Royal Saint suffered a heart attack and died. Smith suffered facial lacerations and was taken to the hospital for further examination.
Norman said he and Gonzalez were going to send The Daddy to the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby (gr. II) Saturday night, but changed their minds when they saw the opportunity in the richer race.
"We believed we had a tactical advantage over the field in the Indiana Derby, and we did," Norman said.
"If we run again this year, it will be in the Breeders' Cup Classic, without a doubt," he said.
The Daddy broke in a tangle with Military Major, Kilates Kiss, and Royal Saint, but edged in front while completing the early fractions in :24 4/5 and :48 4/5. Kilates Kiss headed The Daddy briefly as they reached the far turn, but The Daddy came on again as the challenger faded. The Daddy was in firm command in the stretch until coming under heavy pressure late to hold off A.P. Arrow.
The lightly raced The Daddy, a dark bay who sold for $125,000 at Saratoga in August 2003, made his stakes debut in the King's Bishop. He's had four career starts and won three, winning $450,000 Saturday.
The Daddy paid $12.80, $8 and $6.60. A.P. Arrow returned $6.20 and $4.20. Nolan's Cat was $5.80 to show.
Military Major finished fourth, followed home by Smokescreen, Kilates Kiss, Silver Haze, 3-1 favorite Real Dandy and Desert Breeze.