09/13/2011 2:54PM

Louisiana Downs: Populist Politics eyeing Indiana Derby

Louis Hodges Jr.
Populist Politics is being pointed to the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park.

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Populist Politics keeps stepping up his game, and following his big third-place finish in last weekend’s Super Derby, he could get another shot at graded competition next month. Trainer Tom Amoss said earlier this week that Populist Politics is now under consideration for the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on Oct. 1.

The horse entered the Super Derby, a Grade 2, $500,000 race at Louisiana Downs last Saturday, with a pair of Louisiana-bred stakes wins to his credit. He trailed the field through six furlongs in 1:15.49 in his graded stakes debut and then came with a determined run to finish 2 1/2 lengths behind wire-to-wire winner Prayer for Relief.

“He was behind the eight-ball because of his style,” Amoss said of closer Populist Politics. “The pace was ridiculously slow. It’s something a horse just can’t overcome. Despite it all, I thought he ran his best race.

“I think he’s a good 3-year-old who’s getting better. We’ll scout around for a race. The Indiana Derby is a possibility.”

Populist Politics, who earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 94 in the Super Derby, is by 2005 Indiana Derby winner Don’t Get Mad. Earlier in his career, Populist Politics won the $75,000 Louisiana Showcase Mile at Evangeline Downs and the $109,000 Louisiana Futurity at Fair Grounds. He races for the partnership of Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence.

Alternation to Oklahoma Derby

Alternation, another late-runner compromised by the slow pace in the Super Derby, is now being pointed to the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Oct. 16, trainer Donnie Von Hemel said.

“We’ve got him at Remington, and if everything goes well, we’ll be looking at the Oklahoma Derby,” Von Hemel said Tuesday.

Alternation, who in May won the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park, closed for fourth in the Super Derby.

“I wish they hadn’t let the favorite go in 1:15 and change,” Von Hemel said. “He just needed a little better setup.”

Von Hemel had two other stakes starters at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, and both horses won. She’s All In surged late to take the $100,000 River Cities by a head. The race came in her second start since May.

“That was a little bit of a different dimension for her, coming from that far off the pace,” Von Hemel said. “It was a thrilling finish.”

She’s All In is an Oklahoma-bred, and she could make her next start in one of three statebred stakes on the Oklahoma Classics Day program at Remington on Oct. 28.

“She could run in the Filly and Mare Turf, the Filly and Mare Dirt, or in the Classic,” Von Hemel said of the Remington races. “We’ll certainly consider all the two-turn races she’s eligible for.”

Von Hemel’s other Louisiana Downs stakes winner was Soonerette, who added blinkers and led throughout to take the $100,000 Happy Ticket. She won the one-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies with a career-high Beyer of 77.

“She ran a little faster than the boys did, if I’m not mistaken,” Von Hemel said. “It was a very good performance by her.”

Von Hemel said Soonerette will be considered for the $90,000 Oklahoma Classics Day Lassie at six furlongs at Remington on Oct. 28. He said he also would discuss the option of the Grade 3, $150,000 Jessamine at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Keeneland on Oct. 13 with owner Robert Zoellner.

Zoellner also owns She’s All In.

Keeneland options for Gung Ho

Gung Ho, who was up for a neck win in the $150,000 Unbridled at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, could make his next start at Keeneland, trainer Mike Maker said. The Unbridled, at a mile on turf, was the second career win for Gung Ho, who closed fast to earn a career-high Beyer of 71.

“He was covered up pretty good, and when got out he showed a good turn of foot,” Maker said.

“We’ll probably look for something at Keeneland, the Bourbon or the Breeders’ Futurity.”

The Grade 3, $100,000 Bourbon, at 1 1/16 miles on turf, is Oct. 9. The Grade 1, $400,000 Breeders’ Futurity, at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack, is Oct. 8.

Gung Ho won his maiden on a synthetic surface at Presque Isle in August.

◗ Trainer Eric Heitzmann, who is in the midst of a productive meet at Louisiana Downs, plans to take about a dozen horses to Keeneland following the close of the season. It will be his first fall meet in Lexington, Ky., in quite a while, he said. Heitzmann also will have a division of horses at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.