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Grasshopper Not a Lock in Super Derby

Forty Acres and Going Ballistic are among others to consider in the $500,000 Super Derby (gr. II) Sept. 22 at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.

All the talk leading up to the $500,000 Super Derby (gr. II) has been centered around race favorite Grasshopper. But several of the 10 contenders in the Harrah's Louisiana Downs feature event Sept. 22 have more than enough credentials to make bettors give the 1 1/8-mile event a second look.

Grasshopper enters off an impressive second-place finish behind Street Sense in the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes (gr. I), and his latest five-furlong bullet work in 1:00.60 solidified the fact he is ready to go. The son of Dixie Union out of Grass Skirt will leave from post 9 with regular jockey Robbie Albarado. Neil Howard trains for owners William Farish and E.J. Hudson Jr.

Though on the board in all six of his starts, Grasshopper has never won a stakes, which is not the case with many of the Super Derby starters. Among the main contenders is Bill and Denise Morrison’s Forty Acres, who won the Aug. 18 Super Derby Prelude by 2 1/4 lengths. In doing so, Forty Acres, by West Acre out of Jackie’s Gate, defeated four of the current Super Derby entrants: Strong City, Cajun Conquest, Point Gold, and second-place finisher Beta Capo.

Forty Acres has won four of nine lifetime starts, all of them at Louisiana Downs. Prior to the Prelude, the 3-year-old bay colt won an allowance by 7 1/2 furlongs July 26. Bred in Arkansas by McDowell Farm, Forty Acres is trained by Jorge Lara.

It will be the first Super Derby for the 37-year-old Lara, who took over many of the horses previously trained by Cole Norman, who was involved in an automobile accident in May and is currently awaiting trial on manslaughter charges. Lara was his assistant based at Oaklawn Park.

“In a way, this has been a big break for me, but I wish it would have come under better circumstances,” Lara said. “Everything Cole has had to deal with personally has been tough. I took over his horses the third week of the Oaklawn meet and everything has been going good.

“This is definitely my best horse. We thought he was going to just be a sprinter, but we figured we’d try him long and he has responded. Everyone is expecting us to get to the lead (in the Super Derby), but this horse doesn’t have to be on the front end. We’re going to wait and see what Grasshopper does from the nine hole.

Carlos Gonzalez will ride Forty Acres, who is 8-1 on the morning line.

Another contender with nice back class is Going Ballistic, a gray colt bred in Florida by Adena Springs. Going Ballistic, a son of Lite the Fuse out of Holy Lightning, has started in a race-high five graded stakes, placing twice. His last two efforts produced a second-place finish in the American Derby (gr. II), and most recently he took third in the Aug. 11 Secretariat Stakes (gr. I). Both were on the Arlington Park turf.

Donnie Von Hemel trains Going Ballistic for Kindred Thoroughbreds. He has been on the board in nine of 15 lifetime starts and will start from the outside in post 10.

Also not to be overlooked are Past the Point and the Louisiana-bred Tortuga Straits. Darley Stables’ Past the Point has only raced four times but never has been worse than second and seems to be getting better with every start. Most recently, the son of Indian Charliewas second to Loose Leaf in the Lemon Drop Kid at Saratoga Aug. 5. He is trained by Eoin Harty.

Tortuga Straits has won six of seven career tries, five of them stakes, all in Louisiana. This will be the first graded-stakes effort for the Gold Tribute colt, who is trained by Ralph Irwin.

Completing the field is Leonnatus Anteas, last year's Canadian 2-year-old champion. Making his first start outside of Woodbine, he is 5-1 in the morning line.

$500,000 Super Derby (gr. II, Race 10, 5:10 p.m.), Three-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Point Gold (KY), 124, John Jacinto
2. Forty Acres (AR), 124, Carlos Gonzalez
3. Beta Capo (KY), 124, Luis S. Quinonez
4. Cajun Conquest (KY), 124, Elvis Joseph Perrodin
5. Leonnatus Anteas (ON), 124 Jono C. Jones
6. Past the Point (KY), 124, Rafael Bejarano
7. Strong City (KY), 124, Quincy Hamilton
8. Tortuga Straits (LA), 124, Kirk Paul LeBlanc
9. Grasshopper (KY), 124, Robby Albarado
10. Going Ballistic (FL), 124, M. Clifton Berry