09/06/2012 3:57PM

Louisiana Downs: Blueskiesnrainbows stands out in diverse Super Derby field

Benoit & Associates
Blueskiesnrainbows (right) won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in his last start, earning a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Blueskiesnrainbows will be a short-priced favorite in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Saturday because of both his connections and credentials. He is a Bob Baffert-trained 3-year-old coming off a Grade 2 win in Southern California, and he is to be ridden by Joe Talamo, the Louisiana native who went on a stakes tear at Del Mar.

But there are more layers to the 1 1/8-mile race. Blueskiesnrainbows is an up-and-coming horse who still has things to prove. He is looking for his first win outside of California, and he will likely have to deal with more pace pressure than he is used to.

Blueskiesnrainbows also faces a diverse nine-horse field that includes battle-tested runners like Rousing Sermon, who ran in this year’s Kentucky Derby, and Hero of Order, winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. There also are some wild cards, like Bourbon Courage, the runner-up in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, and Fly Lexis Fly, a Group 1 winner in Peru making his second start for trainer Neil Drysdale.

The Super Derby is one of six stakes on a 13-race card worth more than $1 million. There is a $100,000-guaranteed all-stakes pick four on races 8-11, with the Super Derby part of the sequence as the 10th race with a post of 5:10 p.m. Central. Another high point on the day is an appearance by Smile Sprint winner Gantry in the $50,000 Temperence Hill, which will serve as his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Blueskiesnrainbows ran the race of his career in the Swaps in his last start July 4, when he controlled the pace and then fought late for a three-quarter-length win in the 1 1/8-mile stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park. He earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 103 and has since been training sharply at Del Mar in preparation for the Super Derby. He arrived here Wednesday.

“It was a good spot to go to,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to Baffert, whose father, Bill Baffert, died Monday. “It set up good. He hadn’t run in a while, and we had to get a race, either there or the Pennsylvania Derby, and we chose to come to Louisiana.”

Baffert won the Super Derby a year ago with Prayer for Relief, who cruised wire to wire. And while there is a chance Blueskiesnrainbows could steal away Saturday, he also might face an early challenge from Hero of Order, the front-running winner of the Louisiana Derby who breaks to his immediate outside in post 4, and Master Rick and Tensas Cold Front, who dueled in the $100,000 Prelude last month at Louisiana Downs. There’s also a chance Rousing Sermon, who has done his best work from off the pace, could apply added pressure as he is stretching back out to two turns off a seven-furlong stakes start at Del Mar.

Despite the potential pace scenario, Blueskiesnrainbows, who races for Bad Boy Racing and Whizway Farms, remains the one to beat. He showed he could rate in the Swaps. And in the Santa Anita Derby in April, he set a quick pace and held well when third to eventual Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another. Blueskiesandrainbows also is a fresh horse who holds a minimum of a 10-point last-race Beyer advantage on each of his rivals in the Super Derby.

Rousing Sermon was fourth in the Swaps and has raced once since, finishing second by three-quarters of a length in the $200,000 Real Good Deal for California-breds at Del Mar on Aug. 3. He has since prepped well for the Super Derby, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

“He’s been training really forwardly, and the horse looks good, his coat looks real good,” he said. “He’s doing really well. He’s been training down at Del Mar, and that gets horses very fit. So, we have some positive things going for us.”

Mike Smith has the mount on Rousing Sermon, who this spring ran third in the Louisiana Derby and eighth in the Kentucky Derby.

Bourbon Courage invades from Kentucky. He made a splash this winter at Fair Grounds, when he won the first two starts of his career with triple-digit Beyers. He made the move to two turns last month and finished second by a half-length in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby. Bourbon Courage had to bid from the rail because he ended up being pinned along the inside, according to trainer Kellyn Gorder.

“Watching the races all day that day, everything was winning from the four to five path,” he said. “It wasn’t an ideal spot the way the races played out.”

Bourbon Courage, who also lost a front shoe, will break from post 9 under Leandro Goncalves.

Fly Lexis Fly is back racing with 3-year-olds after finishing fifth against older horses in the Grade 3 Cougar II at Del Mar. Martin Garcia has the mount from post 5.

Key Donation won the Prelude at Louisiana Downs and with it a fees-paid berth into the Super Derby.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's amazing how people think Baffert just needs to show up and he will win. This race is much more open than people think. Having said that, I like Bourbon Courage his sheet numbers stack up will against this group and he is training well
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
what a poor field for a 500k race .kind of sad actually.blue is the class of the field and we know how deadly baffert is with shippers.but exept for the sa derby where he got the lead as a 43/1 rabbit for liason,he has not run a fast race on dirt,add to that the fact he seems to need to be forwardly placed in a field of many other speed types and you have the making of a perfect pace collapse.so im going to pick a horse that will benefit from that scenario ROUSING SERMON hes faced some of the best 3yos and been close enough to warrant respect in this field .if he takes to the quirky Louisiana downs surface mike will have him closing strongly late.my second choice will be KEY DONATION an improving horse that we know likes the surface and will get the distance.for 3rd im going with TENSAS COLD FRONT a rapidly improving 3yo that likes this surface and will get the distance,if he can rate just of the pace he can get first run and be very dangerous.i really cant make a case for anybody else FLY LEXIS FLY might have needed that last race and maybe he is a better horse on dirt but i cant get over the fact that his wins were in peru and peru is not i repeat not brasil or argentina or even chile for that matter.racing class there there is much softer.that 1 1/4 mile in 2.072 was almost 6 seconds slower than ill have anothers derby time,thats almost 30 lenghts regardless of the track surface or variant thats slow.BOURBON COURAGE ran a decent race last out but i hate to see a horse whos beyers get smaller as the distances get longer and thats exactly whats happening with this horse.being by lion heart out of a carson city mare i dont see him improving going this long.good luck and if blue wins hey its not the biggest surprise in the world but you cant make it in this game by betting vulnerable chalk.
James Seward More than 1 year ago
Matt- did you forget about Indian Charlie??? He has sired FOUR CHAMPIONS! I'd say that qualifies as a successful stallion. Furthermore, Real Quiet, Silver Charm, and Congaree all had very successful careers beyond their 3yo campaigns, and Real Quiet sired another Baffert trained champion Midnite Lute! Check your facts before slandering the man.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
I like Blueskiesnrainbows, I always have, ever since that eye-popping effort in the Santa Anita Derby against top-tier three year old champions. This colt has a lot of heart, and I love that quality in a horse. He could win on just class alone. He will be short in price, not my particular cup of tea betting wise, so I will probably go for the value in the exotics instead. The strategy for the race is interesting, though. Hero of Order likes to take the lead, he's best as a frontrunner, and he loves LA tracks. His best efforts have by far been there. There is probably going to be a speed dual with him involved. If the three most polished horses in the race (Blueskiesnrainbows, Rousing Sermon and Bourbon Courage) rate off of that speed dual, we should have an interesting, fun competitive race at the end. And, hopefully, some halfway decently paying exotics. Good luck to Blueskiesnrainbows and all of the participants in the Super Derby!
Perl More than 1 year ago
This is a pretty weak field, but this horse doesn't usually draw top tier three year olds. The Baffert horse should toast these horses as long as Hero Of Order doesn't screw him up on the front end.
bob More than 1 year ago
I dont think it's ducking-just more choices-2 weeks later is the Pennsylvania Derby for 1000000 so the better 3 year olds runs there
Eric Rickard More than 1 year ago
I remember when the Super Derby used to be a big deal. Sunday Silence et all use to run here. I hate the ducking that horses do now,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And don't forget the mighty Tiznow; it was his dominantthis race in 2000 that convinced me that Tiz, and not the over-rated FuPeg was the best US-based 3yo; the only worry was that Irish-bred Giant's Causeway, and we all know how that fabulous race turned out.
jttf More than 1 year ago
thank goodness they have a medical squad on standby.