The Grade 2 Super Derby
Louisiana Downs / September 6 / Race 11 / 5:12 CDT
by TimeformUS Analyst Justin Finch
The Grade 2, $400,000 Super Derby has a field of 11 three-year-olds running nine furlongs on the dirt. The field contains no Grade 1 winners, one Grade 2 winner, and two Grade 3 winners. No, this is not the strongest Super Derby field we've ever seen, but it is an interesting race, and we are loath to complain about any field that comprises 11 horses who total 35 victories among them.
According to the TFUS Pace Projector, the pace of the Super Derby will favor neither frontrunners nor closers, and the early leaders will be the same two horses who were banging it out early in the Super Derby Prelude Stakes: Ide Be Cool and Gold Appointment. They are followed by Vicar's in Trouble and Jessica's Star, both of whom are pictured in cozy-looking stalking spots.
Let's look at the field in post position order, with morning line odds in parentheses:
Jessica's Star (3-1): 4 for 7 lifetime. Winner of the Grade 3 Iowa Derby, where he beat Vicar's in Trouble in the mud but beat him on the square, beat him despite considerable groundloss on the turns. Sports a pattern of improving speed figures. Comes in off speed figures of 101 and 102. Has displayed a knack for finding wet racetracks, but his dry-track races are better than fine. His trainer gets a strong rating of 87 in three-year-old stakes. Jessica's Star is a big threat in here and should go off at higher odds than Vicar's in Trouble.
Louies Flower (30-1): Has never run a race that would threaten the best of these.
Ide Be Cool (15-1):
Has made the lead at the first call in his last seven races. Assuming that today makes it eight, his best chance may come if Gold Appointment finds a way to rate. And this cannot be ruled out. After all, their destructive (see pace figures and fractions color-coded in red for fast pace) pace duel in the Prelude did neither of them any good.
Vicar's in Trouble (9-5): With a bankroll of almost $900,000 and romping victories in the Grade 3 LeComte and the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby to his credit, he is the most-accomplished horse in this field. He is also fresh off a speed figure of 107, which is a faster number than any horse in this field has ever run. And the Race Ratings of his recent races (103 and 105) stand apart from those of all but two of his opponents.
His trainer, Michael Maker, does not make it a habit to run at this racetrack, but he is strong on this circuit (rating of 96) and strong with horses switching circuits (95). Indeed, he is a strong trainer, period. And he's got the morning line favorite here, a horse about whom there is an awful lot to like in this spot. But the closing odds figure to be a bit hard to stomach.
Louisiana Flyboy (10-1): His last race, a victory in a minor stake, is better than it looks on paper. He lost ground on the first turn, lost a lot of ground on the second turn, and showed quite a bit of power from the far turn to the finish. The lifetime-top speed figure he earned for that effort, a 91, will not get it done in here. But he was ridden like a 4-5 shot in that race. We don't expect that kind of ride today. An interesting longshot.
Victory Nor Defeat (8-1): Lightly raced, his top speed figure, an 87, is too slow to compete here. However, he may have more to offer today. In his last race, at Gulfstream, he was making a big run on the rail, had to put on the brakes and wait, and then angled gently to the rail and put in a powerful late run to get the win. But when playing a horse who needs a big jump to win the race, we like to see higher odds than we are likely to get on this colt today.
Alamo Heights (12-1): Received a perfect set-up in the Prelude and still didn't run fast enough to do much damage today.
Gold Appointment (20-1): Very likely up against it from a pace standpoint, but in his favor, as far as possibly hitting the bottom of the board is concerned, is the fact that he has run three speed figures in the 90s.
Declan's Fast Cat (30-1): Way too slow.
East Hall (5-1): The grizzled veteran in this group, he will be making his 17th start today. His most recent start, in the Ohio Derby, was his best, as he earned a speed figure of 97 while hanging a head on our top choice. Picks up 7 pounds for this, which is reflected in our speed figures (unless you choose the "weight off" option). Figures to lose some ground from this post, and figures to be the third choice in the wagering, but he's a solid, hard-hitting gelding who cannot be discounted.
Announcement (12-1): An ambitious spot for this colt, who is undefeated in his two starts. The bottom-level allowance race he just won received a Race Rating of 87. The preliminary Race Rating for today's race is 98. Will need to improve his speed figure by about 20 points.
Key Jessica's Star.