08/28/2003 12:00AM

Free Super Derby berth added incentive


They're running for more than just the purse Saturday in the $50,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs. The winner of the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds gets a free starting berth in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 20. That's a perk worth $8,500.

To get it won't be easy. The Prelude has drawn a competitive field of eight, including Crowned King, Kool Humor, Guaranteed Sweep, and Zydeco Affair.

Crowned King, a powerful closer, has been one of the most productive 3-year-olds in the region. He captured the $125,000 Rebel over Great Notion at Oaklawn Park in March; the $200,000 USA over Kool Humor at Lone Star Park in May; and the $50,000 Bossier City over Zydeco Affair in his last start here July 26.

Since that race, Crowned King has been unusually sharp in his workouts. In his recent works for the Prelude, he went six furlongs in 1:11.40 on Aug. 17, and four furlongs in a bullet 46.60 seconds on Aug. 23.

"The first work he was pretty fresh, and instead of fighting him he went on his own," said Billy McKeever, who co-owns and trains Crowned King. "It was fast, but it didn't bother him.

"The other work, he relaxed on the backside and finished strong the last quarter. Another horse broke off at the half-mile pole about a sixteenth in front of him, and he ended up running that horse down."

McKeever, who has given the mount to Chandra Rennie, is hopeful there is enough speed in the race to set up Crowned King's late run. In his favor are two entrants stretching out from sprints, as well as the presence of Kool Humor.

Kool Humor did not show his customary speed last out when he finished sixth in the Grade 1 Haskell at Monmouth Park. His owner, Tom Durant, said the race was a throwout, and since then Kool Humor has worked a bullet.

Another capable colt is Guaranteed Sweep, who gets back to racing with 3-year-olds after finishing fourth to Pie N Burger last out in the $60,000 Bob Johnson Memorial.