09/17/2001 11:00PM

Distance is the 'Super' question


Touch Tone has been caught in major stakes after setting the pace going 1 1/8 miles in each of his last two starts. On Sunday he will have to carry his speed even farther in the

1 1/4-mile Super Derby, a Grade 1, $500,000 race for 3-year-olds.

"I believe he'll handle [the added distance], but you don't know for sure until you get out there and try it," said Ronny Werner, who trains Touch Tone for Tom Durant. "I do think the racetrack surface there will suit him."

Robby Albarado has the mount on Touch Tone, who in his last start finished third, beaten two lengths by champion Macho Uno, in the Pennsylvania Derby. In his prior start, Touch Tone was second, beaten a half-length by Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Point Given, in the Haskell.

Touch Tone's task in the Super Derby is made more difficult by the fact probable favorite E Dubai also possesses blazing speed and will challenge Touch Tone early. A speed duel is a distinct possibility.

E Dubai is coming off a second-place finish to Point Given in the Travers. Prior to that race he won the Grade 2 Dwyer. Jerry Bailey, who rode E Dubai in the Travers, is expected to have the mount Sunday for trainer Saeed Bin Suroor.

The Super Derby, which last year was won by Horse of the Year Tiznow, is also expected to draw Outofthebox, to be ridden by Lonnie Meche; Until Sundown, Gary Stevens; Discreet Hero, Kent Desormeaux; Royal Spy, Anthony Lovato; Rare Cure, Ronald Ardoin; Quadrophonic Sound, Kirk LeBlanc; and Wow, Calvin Borel.

In his final major prep for the Super Derby, Touch Tone worked six furlongs in a swift 1:12.02 at Belmont Park Sunday under jockey Jorge Chavez. "He did it within himself," said Werner. "Normally, when he's on his game, he works pretty fast."

Touch Tone is scheduled to arrive at Louisiana Downs on Thursday aboard a flight carrying Outofthebox and E Dubai.

Until Sundown, the Grade 3 Affirmed winner, who in his last start finished a distant fifth in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, is to arrive at Louisiana Downs on Wednesday for trainer Laura de Seroux.