10/17/2006 11:00PM

Not much pace to chase in Okla. Derby


The makeup of Friday night's $250,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park is somewhat unusual as its top three contenders, Louisborg, More Than Regal, and Sensational Score, are all closers. They are dependent on pace, something that could be lacking in this year's running of the 1 1/8-mile race. With the expected scratch of Master of Disaster, there appears to be no dominant speed in what will become an 11-horse field, a situation that might place greater demands on the three favorites.

"It's going to make some difference," said Tony Richey, who trains Louisborg.

The Oklahoma Derby is the richest race of the meet and one of six stakes on the card worth a cumulative $675,000. Louisborg enters off a third-place finish in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby. Before that, he won the $100,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs and a first-level allowance at Evangeline Downs.

"When he won at Evangeline, it was an awful slow pace, in a slow race, and he still got up," said Richey. "I don't think it will be as hard this time to get up as it would have been two races ago. I think he's maturing a little bit, and hopefully he'll be a little closer."

Richey said that he would not change Louisborg's running style for the Oklahoma Derby, but that he might be closer if the pace is moderate. Mike Machowsky, who trains Sensational Score, feels the same way about his charge, who closed from 15 lengths back to capture the $100,000 Pomona Derby at Fairplex.

"They were going pretty fast out there in the Pomona Derby that day when he won, so he'll probably be a little closer," said Machowsky. "But he has such a strong kick."

More Than Regal, who can be closer to the pace than Louisborg and Sensational Score, is looking for his fourth stakes win of the year, his richest victory coming in the $250,000 Iowa Derby. Earlier in the season, he picked up checks in a pair of Grade 2 races in Kentucky.

"He's closed well on some very nice horses," said Scott Blasi, who trains More Than Regal and who leads the standings at Remington. "To me, the horse has been very consistent. He tries as hard as he can every time he goes out there."

The role of pacesetter could fall to Wait in Line, who worked a bullet three furlongs and who is coupled with closer Belligerence. Casino Evil, a front-running winner of the $150,000 Round Table at Arlington, could also show speed, as could Almost Certain.