September 18, 2009

How Super is it?

Temperence Hill won the Belmont and was the 3-year-old champion of 1980, Island Whirl was a Grade 1 winner in three consecutive years, Reinvested was third in the Kentucky Derby and a multiple stakes winner, Sunny’s Halo won the Kentucky Derby and was a multiple graded stakes winner, Gate Dancer won the Preakness and came within two heads of winning back-to-back Breeders‘ Cup Classics, Creme Fraiche won the Belmont and earned more than $4 million in his career, Wise Times won three consecutive Grade 1 races, Alysheba was a 3-year-old champion of 1987 and Horse-of-the-Year of 1988, Seeking the Gold was a multiple graded stakes winner who finished 1st or 2nd in all but one of his races, and Sunday Silence won two-thirds of the Triple Crown and was the 3-year-old champion of 1989. Quite an illustrious list. What do these ten horses have in common? They all won the Super Derby in the decade of the 1980’s, making them the first ten winners of the race.

In 1980 the Super Derby was a brand new race and it immediately gained national prominence as the premier race for 3-year-olds in the Fall. Year after year top horses went down to Louisiana and won the Super Derby not as a prep, but as a major goal. As the 1980’s came to an end so did the excellence of the Super Derby fields. Maybe the purse did not seem so outstanding anymore or maybe racing in Louisiana in September was no longer considered the best way to get your horse to the Breeders’ Cup. For whatever reason, the importance of the Super Derby is not what it once was. Today a better name for the race would be the Pretty Good Derby.

This year’s Pretty Good Derby brings together a field of seven. No world beaters in here once again, but the good news is that it offers a very well balanced field of seven. Each of the seven horses has a legitimate chance to take home the winner’s purse and together they offer an interesting betting affair.

Soul Warrior, upset winner of the West Virginia Derby, is listed as the morning line favorite. I like to bet on races where I am not fond of the favorite and in the Pretty Good Derby, I am not liking Soul Warrior’s chances. I’ll be a little surprised if repeats his West Virginia performance and adds another derby to his resume. I hope Soul Warrior gets bet heavy, but I think he probably will not go off as the favorite. In my opinion, Blame with Louisiana native, Jamie Theriot, in the irons, is strictly the horse to beat and could well end up the people’s choice as favorite. The late developing son of Arch has run deceptively well in his last few races and out gamed Pennsylvania Derby hero, Gone Astray, in his latest. Louisiana based trainer Al Stall should have him ready to run his best this Saturday. Winning the Pretty Good Derby is in Blame’s bloodlines as both his sire, Arch, and his broodmare sire, Seeking the Gold, won this race. Looking past Blame, I look for longshot, Electric Alphabet, to run a big race. Electric Alphabet is improving with every race, has a solid race over the racing strip, and appears to have inherited a penchant for fighting all the way to the wire from his sire, Alphabet Soup. The Godolphin charge, Regal Ransom, is the wildcard in the race and if he runs as well as many of the Godolphin runners recently, would be no surprise to take this once ‘Super’ race.


Abitaamber said...

You can't leave out Tiznow when talking about the Super was his springboard to greatness!

Brian Zipse said...

Tiznow was a champion and he ran a great race in the 2000 Super Derby, but since 1990, he is one of the exceptions to the rule. Before 1990 they got horses like that pretty much every year.

NetworkEmpowerment said...

It's a shame to see what used to be such a great race turned into just and OK race. I was about to mention Tiznow Abbitamber beat me to it. Great blog Brian.