09/17/2009 12:00AM

Regal Ransom outclasses derby field


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sometimes, the class of a race is the horse who has earned the most money. Other times, it might be the horse that has simply kept the best company.

By either of those two evaluations, the class of Saturday's Super Derby is clear: it is Regal Ransom. Easily the leading money earner in the field with a bankroll of nearly $1.3 million, Regal Ransom also happens to exit undisputedly the toughest and deepest 3-year-old race of the year - the Kentucky Derby.

Yet Regal Ransom is not the favorite in the Grade 2 Super Derby, at least on the morning line, suggesting he looms a rewarding wager.

Granted, Regal Ransom could be at a fitness disadvantage in the race, not having raced since the first Saturday in May, but based on his workouts, and the performances of other runners in his stable this year, it seems unlikely this horse is anything but 100 percent fit.

Based in New York with Godolphin's operation, he has worked lights out leading up to his return, capped by a couple of sparkling workouts earlier this month for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

Additionally, a quick check of Daily Racing Form's Formulator software shows just how hot that stable has been in graded stakes over the past month and a half. Seventh Street won the Grade 1 Go For Wand on Aug. 2, Flashing the Grade 1 Test on Aug. 8, Music Note the Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 29, Sara Louise the Grade 3 Victory Ride on Aug. 29, and Pyro the Grade 1 Forego on Sept. 5.

And perhaps more significant than those victories was that Vineyard Haven crossed the wire first in the Grade 1 King's Bishop on Travers Day, only to be disqualified and placed second for drifting out and bumping Capt. Candyman Can in the race.

Vineyard Haven, it should be noted, was not able to get close to Regal Ransom when they met in their one start in Dubai this winter. Vineyard Haven, who ran fourth, finished 7 1/4 lengths behind Regal Ransom, the runner-up, in the UAE 2000 Guineas (Desert Party won the race).

Following the UAE 2000 Guineas, Regal Ransom would win the Grade 2 UAE Derby over his more highly regarded stablemate Desert Party, and then ran eighth, beaten 14 3/4 lengths in the Kentucky Derby after pressing the early pace.

After competing in recent starts against Desert Party, Mine That Bird, and Vineyard Haven, he is facing horses of lesser quality such as Soul Warrior, Uno Mas, and Blame in the Super Derby. Despite the time away, expect him to return in winning form.

Deal Making should take to distance

Turning to Kentucky Downs, which opens its all-turf meet Saturday, I like Deal Making similarly on the basis of class in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf. Although by no means the leading money earner, Deal Making does exit the toughest last race of any of the entrants.

He finished eighth most recently in Saratoga's Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap, finishing 7 1/4 lengths behind Justenuffhumor and Cowboy Cal, two of the better turf horses in the country.

There is nothing in the Kentucky Cup Turf of their quality - by any stretch.

The issue with Deal Making is staying ability in the 1 1/2-mile Turf. He hasn't raced beyond 1 1/8 miles. But being by Belmont winner Empire Maker and starting for Graham Motion, a trainer who excels with marathon turf runners, he fits the profile of a horse who should take to the distance.

Interestingly, Motion won this race the last time he started a horse at Kentucky Downs when General Jumbo won the 2007 Turf.

'Yankee' tough on firm ground

Earlier on the Kentucky Downs card, Yankee Injunity is the play of the Kentucky Cup Turf Dash.

A 5-year-old Yankee Victor horse, he is just 1 for 5 this year, but considering the deep company he has kept, he deserves much credit for having won a single race.

Since June, over his last three starts, he has raced exclusively in $200,000 stakes races - which for turf sprinters draws the very best around. And the one time he caught firm ground over the three-race stretch, he won, outkicking Chamberlain Bridge and St. Joe to win the Arlington Sprint Handicap.

Veiled Prophet, a miler moving to a sprint, and Just for Keeps, a stakes-winning filly, are the main threats, but if Yankee Injunity catches firm ground again Saturday, there will likely be no beating him.