The 1 1/8-mile Super Derby attracted quality 3-year-olds from all over the country, including Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Alternation, who recently arrived from Arlington Park for trainer Donnie Von Hemel, and the California-based Prayer for Relief, a winner of three consecutive starts including the West Virginia Derby (gr. II) last out. Prayer for Relief was made the 9-5 morning-line favorite.
Four local horses coming out of the Super Derby Prelude are also in the mix, including the winner, Trubs. The First Samurai gelding is trained by Al Stall Jr., who has won this event two of the last three years. Post time for the Super Derby, one of six Louisiana Downs stakes worth a total of $1 million, is scheduled for 5:21 p.m. CDT.
Pin Oak Stable’s homebred Alternation has won three of five starts this year, beginning with a pair of allowance races at Oaklawn Park in the winter. He came from well off the pace to score by a head in the May 14 Peter Pan at Belmont Park before failing to factor when finishing fourth in the July 30 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) most recently.
Von Hemel shipped Alternation (3-1) back to Arlington after the Jim Dandy, where the son of Distorted Humor recorded a five-furlong work in 1:01 3/5 Sept. 2 for his final tune up. He arrived in Louisiana Sept. 6. Von Hemel, who won this race in 2007 with Going Ballistic, has secured Ramon Dominguez to ride.
“We were disappointed in the Jim Dandy,” said Von Hemel. “I think it was a race that you needed to stay closer than we could, so we were just at a bit of a disadvantage. I still would have liked to see a little more punch in the end than we showed. But we’ve been happy with him since.”
Bob Baffert shipped in the rapidly-improving Prayer for Relief Sept. 7 for a shot at a fourth straight win. The son of Jump Start began his season with a first-level allowance victory on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track in May, then made a winning dirt debut when taking the June 25 Iowa Derby (gr. III) at Prairie Meadows. Sent off as the favorite, he rallied to catch Rush Now in deep stretch in the Aug. 6 West Virginia Derby in his most recent start.
Owned by Zayat Stables, Prayer for Relief was under consideration for the Aug. 27 Travers Stakes (gr. I) and even had two works at Saratoga, but Baffert decided to hold him out of the race. He sent the colt back to California, where he recorded a quick four-furlong breeze in :47 1/5 on Sept. 4. Rafael Bejarano will have the mount once again.
Also coming out of the West Virginia Derby is Mike McCarty’s Awesome Bet, who made up some ground late but finished fifth for trainer Steve Asmussen. Awesome Bet rallied from way back to win the July 9 Barbaro Stakes at Delaware Park before that for his third triumph of the season.
The other stakes winner in the field is Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s homebred Trubs, who made a successful routing debut Aug. 6 in the Super Derby Prelude when gamely re-rallying in the stretch to defeat current entrant Populist Politics by three parts of a length. Trubs will be making his sixth start of a season that also includes a win in an overnight sprint stakes at Fair Grounds.
Stall, who assigned Shane Sellers to ride, won the Super Derby in 2009 with My Pal Charlie, finished second with Blame a year later, and won it again in 2010 with Dilschneider’s Apart.
R. A. Stable’s Malibu Glow was fifth in both the Dwyer (gr. II) and Travers this year, with an allowance win at Saratoga sandwiched between those two starts. Team Valor International and Gary Barber’s Meistersinger was third to Awesome Bet in the Barbaro, but returned to romp by 10 lengths in an optional claimer against older horses Aug. 2 at Delaware for trainer Graham Motion.
“I think he’s very adaptable, which is one reason why we don’t mind taking a shot,” said Motion. “He’s a very straightforward horse. I thought his last race was very impressive. It was how he did it. Every race has been a progression.”
$500,000 Super Derby (gr. II, Race 11, 5:21 p.m.), 3YO, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Meistersinger (KY), J Lezcano, 124, H G Motion
2. G. W.'s d'Oro (KY), K Clark, A Leggio Jr.
3. Malibu Glow (KY), M E Smith, 124, G Weaver
4. Populist Politics (LA), G Melancon, 124, T M Amoss
5. Prayer for Relief (KY), R Bejarano, 124, B Baffert
6. Alternation (KY), R A Dominguez, 124, D K Von Hemel
7. Trubs (KY), S J Sellers, 124, A M Stall Jr.
8. Mr. Woodrow (TX), R E Eramia, 124, M G Nicks
9. Awesome Bet (KY), J Shepherd, 124, S M Asmussen