09/23/2010 4:35PM

Douglas recognized a rider's touch


BOSSIER CITY, La. – Rene Douglas did a little research on Anthony Stephen before that Trinidad native guided a horse Douglas co-owns, Golden Moka, to victory in the $500,000 Prince of Wales at Fort Erie back in July, and became a fast fan of the rider.

“I saw some of his races on YouTube and he impressed me,” said Douglas, who was forced to retire from the saddle because of injuries. “He had a good hand on horses. He has patience and he finishes with horses.

“He can ride, believe me.”

Stephen, 36, and Douglas, who lives in Florida, will be on the same team again Saturday when Golden Moka runs in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Stephen, who began riding in 1991, said the horse is the best he has ridden in North America. Stephen said he had won some Group 1 races in Trinidad, as well as two titles.

“After Trinidad I spent seven years in Asia, then came to North America in 2000,” said Stephen.

He moved his family to Vancouver, B.C., in order for his daughter, who was born deaf, to receive the best health care and schooling for her condition. She had implants for her ears, and can now hear, he said.

Stephen is now riding at Fort Erie and Woodbine, and while he is 28 for 163 at Fort Erie, business has been slower at Woodbine. He is 0 for 41 at the meet, and noted that by Canadian rules he cannot have an agent at both tracks, so he chose to have one at Fort Erie. Stephen has been spending much of his time at Woodbine, where he gallops Golden Moka on a regular basis for trainer Brian Lynch.

“I’m telling you this horse is something special,” Stephen said.

Douglas feels the same about Stephen.

Apart comes back stronger

There are times when a physical setback can be good in the long run for a young horse, which has been trainer Al Stall’s experience with both Blame, who is now one of the nation’s top handicap horses, and Apart, a lightly raced colt who has a lot of upside heading into the Super Derby.

Blame, the runner-up in last year’s Super Derby, missed the first half of his 3-year-old season because of a quarter crack and has since won the Stephen Foster and Whitney this year at 4. Apart, meanwhile, will be making his graded debut Saturday. He, too, missed the first half of his 3-year-old season, but quickly made up for lost time last month when he won the $100,000 Prelude.

“He had a tiny condylar fracture as a 2-year-old and that time off was a blessing in disguise,” Stall said. “He came back a really big, filled-in, strong-looking animal. Time never hurts the horses. He’s an eyeful of a horse.” Apart and Blame turned heads earlier this year as occasional workmates at Keeneland.

“People would say, ‘Look at these two killers,’ ” said Stall. “That’s Mother Nature, and that old-class Claiborne blood coming through.”

Apart is by Flatter, a Claiborne-bred son of A.P. Indy. Blame is by the Claiborne-bred Arch, who won the Super Derby in 1998 for Claiborne as well as Adele Dilschneider, who bred and owns Apart and who is a co-owner and co-breeder of Blame.

Stall sent out My Pal Charlie to win the Super Derby in 2008.

Stallion gets new life

The success Aces N Kings has had this year as a multiple stakes winner has led to his obscure sire, Jet Phone, being promoted from a teaser to a 2011 commercial stallion at Valor Farm in Pilot Point, Texas.

“He thinks he’s been reborn,” said Ken Carson, manager of Valor. “We moved him into the stallion barn and he’s big time now.”

Aces N Kings on Saturday will seek to remain undefeated in six starts when he runs in the $100,000 Sunday Silence for 2-year-olds. He should start as the favorite off his six-length win in the local prep, the $50,000 Sunny’s Halo on Aug. 28.

Jet Phone, meanwhile, had been leading a quiet life at Valor until Aces N Kings came along. A son of Phone Trick owned and bred by Clarence Scharbauer Jr., Jet Phone last raced in 2005. He was a winner of three of nine starts before being sidelined by injury.

“We always liked him,” Carson said. “He didn’t do enough to stand him, which is pretty expensive. He wasn’t a stakes winner, but we liked him enough and just kept him as a teaser. We bred one or two Quarter Horse mares to him, and Ed and Caroline Dodwell, who broke him, bred one of their Thoroughbred mares to him and got Aces N Kings. “Thoroughbred-wise, he’s the only horse by him that’s run. We’ve had all kind of calls, bred six of seven mares to him this year, and next year, we’ll put him in the stud book.”

* Louisiana Downs normally requires a minimum of eight horses for superfectas, but will make the bet available on all races Saturday including the six-horse Super Derby.