05/13/2009 12:00AM

Richer Super Derby highlights new meet


Led by the Super Derby purse being boosted from $500,000 to $750,000, racing at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., will have a new look for its 83-date meet that opens Friday. The track, which will race through Oct. 4, has laid out more uniform race weeks and post times, brought on a new racing secretary, and will integrate a new policy on Lasix.

There are new faces on the backstretch, too. Allen Milligan, who won the training title during the Oaklawn Park meet, will have a 30-horse division on the grounds, while the riding ranks will welcome jockey Ramsey Zimmerman.

"I'm excited about the meet," Milligan said. "It should be fun."

The Super Derby will be run Sept. 19 as part of a six-stakes card worth $1.2 million. The 1 1/8-mile race will be run for the 30th time and is the highlight of the meet.

"I think $750,000 has got to turn a few heads," said Trent McIntosh, the new director of racing and racing secretary for Louisiana Downs.

On Friday morning at Louisiana Downs, Summer Bird, a candidate for the Super Derby, will work five furlongs. Coming off a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Summer Bird will be preparing for a start in next month's Belmont Stakes.

"I couldn't be happier with how he came out of the Derby," said Tim Ice, who trains Summer Bird.

Ice, who turns 35 on June 6, the same day as the Belmont Stakes, plans to ship Summer Bird from his Louisiana Downs base to New York on Sunday. The reason for the early ship, he said, is to have two works at Belmont prior to the Belmont Stakes.

Ice has an expanded 25-horse stable on the grounds. Others adding depth to the trainer ranks with local divisions include Jorge Lara, who won the title last year; Al Stall Jr., who trains Preakness starter Terrain; Bret Calhoun, one of the nation's winningest trainers; and Randy Morse, who is new to Louisiana Downs.

Among riders, Don Simington will seek his second straight title in a colony that includes Patrick Valenzuela.

Under the new Lasix policy, horses can be placed on the diuretic through a written request rather having to prove they previously bled, as was a past policy in Louisiana.

Louisiana Downs is expected to average $175,000 a day in purses. Its 34-race stakes schedule is worth more than $3.3 million and it has three key dates. The Super Derby program on Sept. 19 will include the $150,000 Sunday Silence for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Other top stakes days include the $250,000 Super Derby Prelude Day of four prep stakes on Aug. 15 and the $750,000 Louisiana Cup program of eight statebred stakes Aug. 1.

The stakes program gets under way Friday with a stakes double for older Louisiana-breds on turf at a mile. The $50,000 John Franks Memorial is led by Lee's Spirit, while the $50,000 Honeymoon brings together Tortuga Flats, who is 9 for 12 over the local course, and a sharp Tensas Yucatan. There also is a stakes double at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, the Fantasia and the Free Spirit's Joy.

"Opening weekend should be huge," said McIntosh, who joined Louisiana Downs after serving as the racing secretary at Delta Downs for 10 years. "We have four stakes races, we have the Preakness this weekend, and we have the state fair on the grounds. Everybody is going to know, without a doubt, that we have racing going here after one weekend."

Post time will be 1:25 p.m. Central daily this meet, and most race weeks will extend from Thursday through Sunday. McIntosh said Louisiana Downs will have live streaming video of its races on its website, while the track's replay show will be available on YouTube.