09/16/2008 11:00PM

Macho Again 5-2 choice vs. 9 rivals

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Barbara D. Livingston
Macho Again, trained by Dallas Stewart, has been made the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby.

BOSSIER CITY, La. - Trainer Dallas Stewart once worked as a valet in the jockeys' room at Louisiana Downs. Wednesday, he entered his first horse in the track's most prestigious race, the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby.

Macho Again has been made the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the 10-horse field Saturday. He drew post 3 on Wednesday for the 1 1/8-mile race, and will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.

Macho Again, who is based at Churchill Downs, flew into his trainer's old stomping grounds on Tuesday.

"I worked at Louisiana Downs for six years as a valet," Stewart said. "I just had a few riders. That was in the early 1980s."

Stewart said he has been to Louisiana Downs a few times since, to saddle horses for trainer D. Wayne Lukas when he worked as his assistant. Now a successful trainer in his own right, Stewart won the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga in July with Macho Again. The horse has raced once since then, finishing a troubled eighth in the Grade 1 Travers on Aug. 23. He clipped heels in the race during a multi-horse tussle at the quarter pole.

"He had a terrible trip," said Stewart.

One of Macho Again's chief rivals will be Forest Command, a quick colt who drew post 10 for his two-turn and stakes debut in the Super Derby. Trainer John Ward has given the mount to Robby Albarado.

Mambo Meister, a two-time overnight stakes winner from Calder Race Course, also figures to be prominent breaking from post 4 under Patrick Valenzuela. The draw pleased his trainer, Phil Gleaves.

"It's very good," he said. "I wanted 3 or 4. Now I've got to handicap, see what the speed looks like, and act accordingly."

My Pal Charlie, who was considered possible for the Super Derby on Monday by trainer Al Stall Jr., joined the fray Wednesday and drew post 2. Curt Bourque has the mount on My Pal Charlie, who in his last start was a troubled fifth in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Racetrack.

This year's field for the Super Derby is the largest since 2005, when 10 ran in a race won by The Daddy. This year's race will go as the 11th on a 13-race card, with a scheduled post of 5:12 p.m. Central. The Super Derby will be shown live on TVG.

Louisiana Downs will run five other stakes on Saturday to support the Super Derby. Total purses for the six races will exceed $1.2 million. There is also a $100,000-guaranteed pick four on races 9-12, comprising the $150,000 Sunday Silence, led by Valid Message and Marquee Event; the $100,000 River Cities, which drew Brownie Points; the Super Derby; and the $200,000 Unbridled Handicap, led by Steve's Double and Knockout Artist.

The other stakes are the $150,000 Tiznow Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that serves as a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, and the $150,000 Happy Ticket for 2-year-old fillies on turf. Top contenders in the Tiznow, which drew a field of eight, include Jonesboro and Smokeyjonessutton.

The forecast for Saturday is sunny skies and a high of 80 degrees.

Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby

Post Horse Trainer Jockey
1 Stungbythestorm Steve Asmussen Donnie Meche
2 My Pal Charlie Al Stall Jr. Curt Bourque
3 Macho Again Dallas Stewart Kent Desormeaux
4 Mambo Meister Phil Gleaves Patrick Valenzuela
5 King Darius Andrew Ali John Jacinto
6 Numismatist Donny Von Hemel Cliff Berry
7 Star Production James Hodges Carlos Gonzalez
8 Real Appeal Tom Amoss Gerard Melancon
9 Golden Yank Gary Thomas Jamie Theriot
10 Forest Command John T. Ward Jr. Robby Albarado