08/10/2009 11:00PM

Red Lead can bring home a first for Bridges


Trainer Brandon Bridges spent many of his formative racing years at Louisiana Downs, where he worked as an exercise rider as a teenager and later became an assistant trainer. Saturday, he could reach a new milestone at the track. Bridges is well positioned to win the first stakes race of his career with Red Lead, who is the probable favorite for the $100,000 Prelude.

The 1 1/16-mile race is the local prep for the Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby. It will be supported by three other stakes, all designed as stepping-stones for races on the Super Derby undercard Sept. 19. The stakes Saturday are worth a combined $250,000.

Bridges, 25, is a native of Shreveport, La. For the first time in years he has a stable at Louisiana Downs.

"This is where I started off," he said. "I was raised nearby. It's nice to come back."

Bridges went out on his own in 2005 after working as an assistant to trainer Howard Scarberry. He later left the track and spent a year selling cars at a Texas dealership before resuming his training career this spring at Lone Star Park.

Business got off to a rousing start in March, when first-time starter Red Lead shipped to Will Rogers and romped by more than five lengths in a maiden special weight. From there, the horse just missed in a first-level allowance at Lone Star on April 24. Red Lead proceeded to run second in the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Derby at 36-1, and third in the $250,000 Iowa Derby at 22-1 in his last start June 26.

"We've only run him four times, and I think from what little bit we've seen of him he can handle adversity," Bridges said. "He's shown that a couple of times. The second time he ran he broke last and made a huge run from the half-mile pole and got beat a neck. The Lone Star Derby was a totally different race. He ran his guts out the whole way. It looks like whatever we throw at him he can handle."

In his final prep for the Prelude, Red Lead worked a bullet five furlongs 1:01.20 on Aug. 6.

"Thursday, I might breeze him down the lane," said Bridges.

Duke of Mischief eyes Super Derby

Duke of Mischief, who won the Iowa Derby, is being pointed for the Super Derby, said his trainer, David Fawkes. In his last start, the horse was fifth to Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 1 Haskell. Duke of Mischief was one of 20 early nominees to the Super Derby when the list closed Aug. 1. Regular nominations are due Sept. 5.

Fawkes, who is based at Calder, had graded success in Louisiana back in December. He sent Big Drama in to win the Grade 3, $750,000 Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs. Fawkes said Big Drama is being pointed for the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga.

Calhoun excited about filly

Highest Power rolled to a 10-length win in a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies last week at Louisiana Downs, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 81. A daughter of Stormy Atlantic, she was purchased for $85,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Texas yearling sale last fall at Lone Star.

"We've been pretty excited about her for quite some time," said Calhoun, who trains Highest Power for Richard Davis. "We've been taking our time with her. She ran up to expectations for sure."

Next-race plans have not been set for Highest Power. She could be shipped to Calhoun's division at Churchill Downs in order to train in cooler weather, he said. Calhoun added that would put Highest Power in striking distance of stakes in the Midwest.

Turf debut for Bombarda

Bombarda, an 11-length restricted stakes winner at Fair Grounds in February, will be charting some new territory Thursday when she runs in the sixth race. A $20,000 optional claimer with second-level allowance conditions, it is for fillies and mares at five furlongs on turf. Bombarda is part of a nine-horse field.

Calhoun trains the filly, and said he is running her on turf because suitable dirt races didn't fill. Bombarda's sire, Vicar, gets 10 percent turf winners. Meanwhile, her stakes-winning dam, who placed on turf, has produced a turf winner from one turf starter. Bombarda will break from post 2.

"She does have quite a bit of natural speed, and if she can handle the turf it ought to be an all right spot for her," said Calhoun.

In her last start, Bombarda was second in a $30,000 optional claimer at six furlongs at Lone Star. The winner of the race, Magdalena's Chase, covered the distance in a sharp 1:09.60 and could run next in the $100,000 Remington Park Filly and Mare Sprint on Aug. 22.

* Simple Kind of Man, a 3-year-old out of the Grade 1-winning mare Pattern Step, will make his debut in the fifth against a field that includes tough Churchill shipper Helliecat.