08/11/2009 11:00PM

Red Lead heads Super Derby prep


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Saturday is appropriately called Prelude Day at Louisiana Downs. Not only will the winner of the $100,000 Prelude likely come back in next month's Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby, the other three stake races Saturday are also expected to produce key players in the four turf stakes that are slated for the Super Derby undercard.

With an all-fees paid berth in the Sept. 19 Super Derby at stake, the Prelude has top billing. This year's event drew a field of eight headed by Red Lead. The Brandon Bridges charge comes into the Prelude off a third-place performance in the Iowa Derby in just his fourth career start. Eddie Martin Jr., aboard for Red Lead's second-place performance in the Lone Star Derby in early May, will be reunited with the Red Bullet gelding on Saturday.

Electric Alphabet, another developing 3-year-old, will be making his stakes debut in the Prelude for trainer Cecil Borel. The son of Alphabet Soup overcame traffic trouble to win his maiden at Churchill Downs in his last start, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 88 in the process. Leading rider Don Simington has the call.

The stakes action begins with the $50,000 Sunny's Halo in the sixth race. The one-mile turf test for 2-year-olds is a prep for the $150,000 Sunday Silence here on Super Derby Day. The Sunny's Halo entrants have little stakes experience, so recent maiden winners Prince Eddington, Forestry Steel, B'wanagoldmine, and McKenna's Justice could all vie for favoritism.

No stakes race for 2-year-olds in the region would be complete, it seems, without a representative from the powerful Steve Asmussen barn. The country's leading conditioner will send out Nockonheavensgate in the Sunny's Halo. Nockonheavensgate remains a maiden after two defeats as the favorite over the Lone Star turf earlier this summer.

In the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial, an overflow field of 14 2-year-old fillies, including two also-eligibles, will go a mile on the turf. The Wilhite is the final major prep for next month's $100,000 Happy Ticket and is topped by stakes winner The Rumor's True.

The afternoon's final race, the Shiskabob, is for the handicap division and should prove to be a stepping stone toward both the $75,000 Unbridled Handicap and the $75,000 River Cities Stakes on Super Derby Day.

Category Seven, a 4-year-old filly trained by Kenneth Hargrave who won the Matron Stakes at Evangeline in her last start, will take on 10 male opponents.