05/19/2010 11:00PM

Louisiana Cup loses Superior Storm


The strategic date and distance changes made to this year's Louisiana Cup program have yielded full, competitive fields for the majority of the six statebred stakes making up the Saturday card at Louisiana Downs. And things opened up even more on Thursday morning, when trainer Rick Jackson said Superior Storm, who has long been one of the surest bets in Louisiana, would be scratched from the $100,000 Distaff.

"She spiked a temperature," Jackson said of the 2008 Louisiana-bred horse of the year who has won on every statebred showcase day in Louisiana since December 2007.

The Louisiana Cup, which offers total purses of $600,000, is being held 2 1/2 months earlier in a move that makes it flow better with a similar program at Evangeline Downs on July 3. In another key change, the $100,000 Louisiana Cup Derby and $100,000 Louisiana Cup Oaks have both been shortened to seven furlongs from 1 1/16 miles. The move has led to wide-open, large fields of 13 and 11 horses, respectively. But no race on the card boasts more starters than the main event, the $100,000 Turf Classic.

Snakebite Kit leads a field of 14 in the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and up. He has already defeated six of his rivals during a Fair Grounds meet in which he went 4 for 4 against Louisiana-breds. Snakebite Kit then ventured into open company for the first time last month at Evangeline Downs, and was third by a length in the $50,000 John Henry. The race was run at about 1 1/16 miles on turf, and it went in a quick 1:40.20.

"It was a fast time," said Edward Johnston, who trains Snakebite Kit. "And he was in the nine-hole and went a little wide. "I think he'll be on or close to the lead here. That's the type of horse he is. He's got speed."

John Jacinto has the mount.

Other contenders include Hallway, who is moving back to turf after finishing third in an $80,000 optional claimer at Keeneland. The runner-up from that race, Deal Breaker, came back in his next start to win the $50,000 Turf Challenge at Lone Star Park. Aaron Gryder will ride Hallway for trainer Steve Asmussen.

The two will also team up in the Distaff with Hisse, who with the scratch of Superior Storm will face eight others in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares. In her most recent out, Hisse was third by a length in the $50,000 Irving Distaff at Lone Star. Prior to that race, she was a dominating winner of the $60,000 Red Camelia at Fair Grounds.

The $60,000 Sprint is the lead-off stakes Saturday, and it goes as the fifth race on the 10-race card. Flashy Wise Cat, winner of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint at Fair Grounds in December, will be cutting back to one turn after experimenting with two turns in his last couple of races. He won the Champions Day Sprint with a career-high Beyer Figure of 102, one start after a November allowance win in which his running style changed.

"We let him fall back and make a run," said Troy Young, who trains Flashy Wise Cat. "We realized that's what he wanted, and did the same thing on Champions Day. He's got a fantastic turn of foot.

Flashy Wise Cat could get a decent pace, courtesy of front-runners Foreign Production, Pantara Phantom, and Star Production.

The Oaks follows the Sprint and Shezacrazygirl will get good support because she has never been beaten at seven furlongs. But there is a catch. Both of her wins at the distance have come in stakes at Delta Downs, where the races were held at two turns. Regardless, Shezacrazygirl is a class play for her record. She also comes out of the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, a race in which she was ninth to Quiet Temper, one of the year's top 3-year-old fillies. Patrick Valenzuela has the mount for trainer Al Stall Jr.

Canon Man will add blinkers for the derby and looks like the speed of the race. In the late stages, his task will be to hold off Heavenville, a multiple stakes winner who last month was eighth in the Grade 2 Lexington at Keeneland.

To win the $60,000 Filly and Mare Sprint, catch Flawless Gold. She set a hot pace in last month's $50,000 Tellike at five furlongs at Evangeline Downs before finishing third over a track rated good.