09/06/2011 2:40PM

Louisiana Downs: Super Derby contenders settling in

Barbara D. Livingston
Alternation arrived at Louisiana Downs on Tuesday to prepare for Saturday's Grade 2 Super Derby.

Super Derby prospects began arriving at Louisiana Downs en masse Tuesday, with Alternation vanning in from Chicago and Meistersinger and Malibu Glow landing mid-morning after a flight from New York. The horses are part of a projected field of 10 for the Grade 2, $500,000 race over 1 1/8 miles that will be run Saturday.

Prayer for Relief, the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby winner based in Southern California with trainer Bob Baffert, and Populist Politics, a multiple stakes with trainer Tom Amoss in Kentucky, were both scheduled to arrive Wednesday. Other horses track officials expect for the Super Derby are Awesome Bet, Trubs, Mr. Woodrow, G.W.’s d’Oro, and Wils Reward. They will make for the race’s largest field in several years, said Trent McIntosh, director of operations for Louisiana Downs.

“I think the last three have been eight, seven, and six,” he said.

Alternation was the first of the shippers to arrive Tuesday at Louisiana Downs, pulling through the stable gate at about 4:30 a.m. Central, according to his trainer, Donnie Von Hemel. The winner of the Grade 2 Peter Pan in May, he comes into the Super Derby off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 30. On Friday, Alternation put in his final major prep for the Super Derby, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.60 at his Arlington Park base in Chicago. He will now have a lighter schedule up to the race.

“We’ll gallop, school in the paddock, school in the gate, do some of those kinds of things,” said Von Hemel, who has lined up Ramon Dominguez to ride Alternation for Pin Oak Stable.

Trainer Graham Motion said Jose Lezcano has the mount on Meistersinger, who landed in Shreveport, La., about 10:30 a.m. Central. The horse will be the first Louisiana Downs starter for Motion, the Maryland-based horseman who won this year’s Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom. Meistersinger last raced Aug. 2, rolling to a 10-length allowance win at Delaware Park. For the effort, the horse earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

“He’s doing well,” Motion said. This race “seems like a logical progression for him. I think his last three, even four races, every time he’s run a little better. Last time, I thought he was very impressive against older horses.”

Meistersinger, who races for Team Valor International and Gary Barber, was a maiden special weight winner at Gulfstream Park in April. He proceeded to win a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs in June and then made his stakes debut a month later in the $103,000 Barbaro at Delaware Park, finishing third to Awesome Bet.

Malibu Glow arrived on the same flight as Meistersinger, track officials said Tuesday. The horse was a first-level allowance winner at 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga on July 30, then ran fifth in the Travers in his most recent out Aug. 27. George Weaver trains the New York-based Malibu Glow for R.A. Hill Stable.

Trubs, who is stabled at Louisiana Downs with trainer Al Stall Jr., earned a fees-paid berth into the Super Derby by virtue of his win in last month’s $100,000 Prelude Stakes. Populist Politics finished second in the race, beaten three-quarters of a length, while G.W.’s d’Oro was fourth, and Wils Reward, fifth. Mr. Woodrow won a recent first-level allowance winner at Louisiana Downs for the meet’s leading trainer, Morris Nicks.

Louisiana Downs will run five other stakes on the Super Derby undercard Saturday. Purses for the races will total $1 million on what is the richest card of the meet. Entries for the entire 13-race program were to be taken Wednesday.

◗ Keep on Smokin, who earlier this year underwent months of intense veterinary care to recover from second- and third-degree burns suffered in a Texas barn fire that claimed the lives of 25 of his stablemates, will make his comeback in the featured eighth race Thursday at Louisiana Downs.