08/04/2011 4:26PM

Louisiana Downs: Trubs part of strong Prelude field

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Apart became just the second horse in Louisiana Downs history to sweep the Prelude and Super Derby when he turned the trick last year, 19 seasons after it was accomplished by Free Spirit’s Joy.

Whether a horse in Saturday’s $100,000 Prelude is capable of winning the two most significant 3-year-old races at the meet remains to be seen, but the field of 11 offers handicappers real value.

There does not appear to be a clearcut favorite in the Prelude, a 1 1/16-mile race that will share a card with three other stakes. The races, worth a collective $250,000, are designed as preps for the slate of stakes that will be run on Super Derby Day, Sept. 10. The Prelude winner earns a free berth into the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby, a bonus worth $5,000.

Trubs, a stablemate of Apart, who will run Saturday in the Whitney at Saratoga, is the lone open-company stakes winner in the Prelude. He took the $58,000 Black Gold at Fair Grounds in February and appears to have much in his favor heading into the Prelude.

“We’re really looking forward to running him,” said Al Stall Jr., who trains Trubs.

The race will be Trubs’s first since April 6, when he was third in the $50,000 Inaugural at Evangeline Downs. He has since been based at Louisiana Downs, where forecasters are calling for temperatures of 102 degrees Saturday. Stall said Trubs has the benefit of being acclimated and running out of his own stall after shipping around for a series of stakes in the winter. He also noted the Prelude will be Trubs’s first start as a gelding, the reason he has not raced since April.

“We castrated him, and it really seemed like it turned his wagon around,” he said. “We’ll see what happens on race day.”

Trubs will break from post 5 under Shane Sellers.

“I imagine this horse, coming in fresh like he is and having a little sprinter in him, will be close to the lead,” Stall said.

Get in Da House could also fall into a tracking position after pushing the pace along and finishing second in the $75,000 Showcase Mile at Evangeline Downs.

“Last time was my horse’s first start going two turns,” said Wes Hawley, who trains Get in Da House. “I thought he ran a credible race. I thought he was going to be fourth, and he came back and kind of fought on.”

Eddie’s Band should be part of the pace. He wowed at Louisiana Downs in May, when he won a maiden special weight sprint with a Beyer Figure of 102. The horse, who is a son of Pimlico Special winner Eddington, will be making his first start at two turns Saturday.

“He’s bred for it,” trainer Ralph Nicks said. “The breeding says he can. But until they do it, I don’t know.”

The Tom Amoss-trained Populist Politics, a two-time stakes winner against Louisiana-breds, owns the field’s best last-race Beyer Figure, an 89. It was assigned for his win in the Showcase Mile.

Calhoun has trio in Sunny’s Halo

Trainer Bret Calhoun has the competition surrounded with three capable starters in the $50,000 Sunny’s Halo for 2-year-olds at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf. He will send out stakes winners Worthington and Sword Trick and recent maiden winner Easton Jack.

“I think they’re all three very different horses, and they all have questions to be answered,” Calhoun said.

“Worthington showed he can handle the grass,” Calhoun said of the horse’s win in the $50,000 Minstrel at five furlongs at Louisiana Downs. “He’s shown himself to be very fast and talented. The big question now is, ‘Will he go two turns?’ We’ll all find out at the same time.”

Easton Jack is proven at two turns and turf by virtue of a maiden special weight win on the closing-day card at Lone Star Park on July 10. It came in his second start, and Calhoun said he looks for him to move forward off the race when he makes his stakes debut Saturday. Sword Trick is trying two turns and turf, and Calhoun noted the talented runner gets some pedigree support for the surface switch.

“He’s out of a Hadif mare and those Hadifs tend to do very well on the turf,” he said.

◗ The 2-year-old filly Little Ms Protocol seeks her second stakes win of the meet in the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite.

◗ Category Seven meets male rivals on turf in the $50,000 Barksdale.