09/22/2002 11:00PM

Essence of Dubai headed home

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Essence of Dubai, dominant winner of the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, will not race again this year, and is scheduled to return to Dubai as early as next month, according to Tom Albertrani, the New York-based assistant trainer for Godolphin Racing.

"We have no plans for the rest of the year," said Albertrani. "He's going to go into quarantine and return to Dubai and winter there. We'll see how he matures, and bring him back to the States next year."

Albertrani said Essence of Dubai came out of his wire-to-wire 3 1/2-length win in the Super Derby in good order. He returned to his Belmont Park base early Sunday, and will be quarantined for 30 days and then ship back to Dubai, where he won the UAE Derby in March.

"We feel he could do with a little bit of growing up and maturing," said Albertrani. "We did the same thing with E Dubai."

Last year, E Dubai finished second in the Super Derby and did not return to the races until June, when he finished fourth in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap. In his most recent start, E Dubai won the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap

Essence of Dubai showed improved early speed in the Super Derby. He had raced from off the pace in his six prior starts this year, although he had raced only about two lengths off the lead in his last start, a second-place finish in the Pennsylvania Derby at Philadelphia Park.

"There wasn't very much speed in there, and we took advantage of the inside post," Albertrani said. "The horse has been improving over the last couple of races. The Penn Derby was really the turning point. It was encouraging that he came out running [in that race] and managed to stay close to the pace."

Essence of Dubai, a $2.3 million yearling purchase, is trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

Super Derby runnerup Walk in the Snow, part of a package of three yearlings purchased for $5,000, will return to racing with Louisiana-breds next out in the $60,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby at Louisiana Downs on Oct. 19, said trainer Herman Taylor.

Handle up double digits

The bettability of the Super Derby - four horses vied for favoritism - and a decision to move the race to Saturday from Sunday helped Louisiana Downs achieve a 28 percent increase in handle over last year's Super Derby card.

From all sources, the track handled $5,411,497 on its 12-race card Saturday compared to $4,204,231 a year ago. Attendance was also up, with a crowd of 15,089 compared to 14,421 in 2001.

The undercard featured full, competitive fields that also contributed to the handle increase.