09/17/2009 11:00PM

Lots of questions in Super Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Regal Ransom is making his first start since the Kentucky Derby.

BOSSIER CITY, La. - The field that Kentucky Derby alum Regal Ransom will face in his comeback Saturday in the Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby has defined itself in the months he has been away. Soul Warrior defeated Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird in August in the Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby. Blame was flattered two weeks ago, when Gone Astray, a horse he beat to win the $80,000 Curlin at Saratoga, came back to romp in the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby. And Massone, who was third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April, mastered the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Super Derby last out at Del Mar.

They are part of a seven-horse field for the Super Derby, which will be run at Louisiana Downs for the 30th time Saturday. It is the richest of six stakes on a card worth more than $1.2 million, and it will be the third leg of a $100,000-guaranteed all-stakes pick four that runs from races 9-12.

The best betting race of the day might be the Super Derby. There are questions surrounding every starter, even though five of the seven have won at the distance. It will be the first race in four months for Regal Ransom. Soul Warrior picks up 13 pounds off a career effort at 23-1. Blame could be sitting on a breakout performance. Massone is making his first start on dirt. The distance is a question for Red Lead. Uno Mas is returning to graded competition, and a class test awaits the promising Electric Alphabet.

Regal Ransom, winner of the Group 2, $2 million UAE Derby in March, is making his first start since he finished eighth in the . However, he has not been sitting on the bench all this time. In June, Regal Ransom was entered in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens but was scratched due to some inflammation below the hock areas of his hind legs, according to Rick Mettee, the U.S.-based assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

"He was preparing for the [Woody Stephens] on the Belmont undercard, and he popped a couple of curbs that needed to be backed off on," Mettee said. "They were fired and cooled out, and after that he started training again before going up to Saratoga.

"To come down there and run a nine-furlong race, two turns, is asking a lot of a horse who hasn't raced since the first Saturday in May. But he really recovered quickly. He's a very athletic horse, and he puts a lot into his works. He kind of makes it easier on his trainer, so we think we're sending a pretty fit horse down there."

Regal Ransom has turned in a strong series of works and also has the benefit of shortening up to the distance of his win in the UAE Derby on Saturday. Last out in the Kentucky Derby, he prompted the pace for much of the race, which was won in the slop by a last-to-first burst from Mine That Bird.

"He still hung in there pretty good," Mettee said. "He's a horse that fights."

Richard Migliore will ride Regal Ransom, a Godolphin-owned horse who later this year could develop into a candidate for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

Soul Warrior, like Regal Ransom, was scratched out of a race before the Super Derby. He was set to run earlier this month in the Pennsylvania Derby.

"He had a temperature the day we were going to leave for the race," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Soul Warrior for Zayat Stables. "He bounced back, and this is the next derby on the calendar, so to speak."

Soul Warrior closed from 12 lengths back to get up by a neck in the . He had to reel in a loose-on-lead Big Drama and then keep Mine That Bird at bay. Soul Warrior breaks from post 2 under John Velazquez.

"He doesn't have Big Drama speed, but he doesn't get out of touch with the field," Asmussen said. "Hopefully, he's suited to Louisiana Downs."

Asmussen also will start Uno Mas, winner of the . He is the lone horse in the field with a win over the main track at Louisiana Downs and will be ridden by Shane Sellers.

Blame is a late-developing son of Arch, the 1998 Super Derby winner campaigned by Blame's owners, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. Al Stall Jr., who won the Super Derby a year ago with My Pal Charlie, is the trainer of Blame.

"We've always liked him," he said. "He's the kind of horse that has always done everything right. He's easy to train, he's a great-looking horse, and he's done some really great things in the morning in his breezes."

Blame also is putting it together in the afternoon. He won the in his two-turn debut, and one race prior defeated older rivals in an allowance at Churchill. Jamie Theriot, a perfect 3 for 3 on Blame, has the mount Saturday.

Massone was a two-length winner of an $80,000 optional claimer on turf in his last start Aug. 16.

"We were tempted to run in the Del Mar Derby after that race," said trainer Ron McAnally, adding that Massone had finished in front of Rendezvous, who ended up winning the Del Mar Derby, when second in the Grade 3 El Camino Real.

The El Camino Real was on a synthetic surface. Massone will be making his first start on dirt Saturday.

"I think he'll handle most any type of track," McAnally said. "I know he's never been on dirt, but I'm sure he'll handle it."

Garrett Gomez is in to ride Massone.