10/17/2006 11:00PM

Louisborg worth the wait


Louisborg might have launched his career later than each of his rivals in Friday night's $250,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, but he has wasted little time playing catch-up. He won the $100,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs in just his fourth start Sept. 1, then one race later was third to Strong Contender and Lawyer Ron in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby.

Those are big credentials for a colt with only five starts to his name, beginning with a debut win at Louisiana Downs on June 10. Louisborg's owner, Royce Roberts, and his trainer, Tony Richey, have never gotten in a hurry with the colt, who is a May foal by Victory Gallop. Louisborg's dam, Elegance, placed in six stakes and earned $221,888.

"He's a big colt and he's got a big, long stride, and that's the reason we waited and started him so late," said Richey. "Mr. Roberts just wants his horses to perform their best, and if they're 4-year-olds before they mature, he doesn't rush them. Louisborg was just one of those that was late coming around, and we waited and it's paid off."

"You never know how they're going to come and develop," said Roberts.

Louisborg made an impression in his career debut, when he played catch-up big time in a six-furlong race. After spotting the rest of the field many lengths at the start, he closed with a determination that belied his lack of racing experience and got up for a head win. Louisborg came from 17 lengths back that day at Louisiana Downs.

"He's always been good in the gate, but when the gates would open, he would kind of take a step backwards," said Richey. "It would kind of scare him, the flash of the gates opening. We started working with him more at home at the farm, and now they don't scare him. He's just a typical horse that breaks slow. He just kind of lunges out there and goes about his business and doesn't get in a hurry."

Louisborg has broken sharper in his recent starts, and has also moved forward physically, said Richey.

"I've noticed him putting on a little more muscle, a little more tone," said Richey. "So, he's coming, and maybe just coming at the right time."

Lonnie Meche, who is battling Carlos Gonzalez for the riding title at Louisiana Downs, will miss the penultimate card there on Friday to ride Louisborg in the Oklahoma Derby. Meche had a four-win lead over Gonzalez through Wednesday.

Louisborg is scheduled to ship to Remington on Thursday from Roberts's training center in Tyler, Texas.

New tactics suit Sensational Score

Sensational Score, who is entered in the Oklahoma Derby, showed a new dimension last month, when he closed from 15 lengths back to capture the $100,000 Pomona Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race run around three turns at Fairplex Park. The new style was born when the former stalker finished a troubled sixth in an allowance at Del Mar in August.

"He just had a horrible trip," Mike Machowsky, who trains Sensational Score, said of the race at Del Mar. "He was down inside, and was shuffled all the way back and had nowhere to run. Finally, he got out the last part and really exploded."

Given his effort in the allowance and the way Sensational Score finished in his works leading up to the Pomona Derby, the decision was made to take him back off the pace. He roared to a 3 1/2-length win and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

"I think that it's a better style for him," said Machowsky.

Sensational Score won his career debut at a mile on turf, and registered the second win of his career in the Pomona Derby. He is a son of Wild Rush, and a half-brother to Hour of Justice, a Grade 3 winner of $484,608.