09/14/2009 11:00PM

Blame out to make up for lost time

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Barbara D. Livingston
Blame soaks in the rain after winning the Curlin at Saratoga on Aug. 2, his first try in stakes company. Blame will step up to graded stakes competition in Saturday's Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Blame might be the late-developing 3-year-old that steps up in Saturday's Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. He won the .

"It's a good compliment to the horse," said Al Stall Jr., who trains Blame for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

Blame has long been well-regarded by his connections, but a physical setback stalled his development at a key point this winter and he did not make his 3-year-old debut until June. As a result, he will be getting his first taste of graded company in the Super Derby, a race his sire, Arch, won in 1998, and his dam's sire, Seeking the Gold, captured in 1988.

"That was one of the factors for coming," Stall said. "His sire went down this road."

Blame made his career debut last September at Turfway Park and finished third in a maiden special weight over 6 1/2 furlongs. One start later, Blame was up for a one-length win in a seven-furlong maiden special weight on Polytrack at Keeneland. It was starting to look like he might be sitting on a big season at Stall's winter base of Fair Grounds, but the horse would not see action again until June.

"He broke his maiden in October, and everything was going good and then he got a bruise that abscessed that [developed into] a quarter crack in his hind foot," Stall said. "We shut him down, let it grow out on its own, and get to a safe point. As soon as we did, it went right again.

"Injuries are setbacks that are brutal at the time that they happen. But sometimes in the long run you can end up better for it. It let him grow up some and get bigger and stronger.

"He's a gorgeous horse. He's got great size, beautiful balance."

Blame made his first start in seven months on June 12 at Churchill Downs, closing for third to Guam Typhoon in a first-level allowance at seven furlongs. One start later, Blame picked off a first-level allowance of his own, also at Churchill, when he won a one-mile race by 1 1/4 lengths over older rival Blackberry Road. From there, he made his two-turn debut in the Curlin, a restricted overnight stakes at Saratoga.

"That race at a mile and an eighth on a wet track at Saratoga is a tough race on a horse," Stall said. "He handled that well and acts like he wants to keep going."

Blame, under regular rider Jamie Theriot, closed for a three-quarter-length win over Gone Astray, who then obliterated the field in the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 7 for a Beyer Speed Figure of 104. Blame earned a career-best 94 Beyer for his effort in the Curlin.

"What happened in the Penn Derby made it a pretty legit race," Stall said of the Curlin.

Blame is a homebred for Claiborne and Dilschneider, who won the Super Derby with Arch. The horse is out of the mare Liable, who has already produced a stakes winner in Tend.

Dilschneider has been a partner in various horses with Claiborne, the Paris, Ky., farm that has been home to such stallion greats as Secretariat, Bold Ruler, Buckpasser, and Nijinsky II. She is the granddaughter of John M. Olin, who bred and owned 1974 Kentucky Derby winner Cannonade. Stall, a native of Louisiana, won his first Super Derby last year with My Pal Charlie.

Dilschneider and Stall would like to see history repeat itself Saturday at Louisiana Downs.