09/22/2005 11:00PM

Super Derby cast shaping up


With less than a week to go before the Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby and some 52 horses nominated to that signature event at Louisiana Downs, pinning down who will be in the field is difficult.

Smokescreen is a definite; he is set to fly into town for the Oct. 1 race on Tuesday. The status of Nolan's Cat was pending a workout over the weekend, while locals Royal Saint and Silver Haze are a go. Among possibles are A.P. Arrow, Magna Graduate, and Key Issues.

This year's Super Derby will be run at 1 1/4 miles for the first time since 2001, and the distance is one of the main draws for Smokescreen, said his trainer, Ben Perkins Jr. In his last out, Smokescreen rallied from well back for third in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby.

"It seems like the extra distance will help him," said Perkins. "His last race at a mile and an eighth, that was his first time going a mile and an eighth, and he actually was in a little trouble on the turn. When he got clear at the sixteenth pole, he really kind of was closing there, so we think the extra distance will help him."

Perkins said Smokescreen, a winner of 3 of 9 starts, is scheduled to fly out of Newark, N.J., on Tuesday, and will be ridden by Mike Luzzi.

Nolan's Cat finished third in the Belmont Stakes as a maiden, and in his last start won a Saratoga maiden special weight on Aug. 25. Dale Romans trains Nolan's Cat, and said on Friday that he is seriously looking at the Super Derby.

"I'm going to make that decision tomorrow," he said. "I'm going to work him in the morning, and then [there's] travel arrangements."

Romans planned to work Nolan's Cat five furlongs, and as of Friday morning had not decided on a rider for the colt, who in his last start was ridden by Jerry Bailey.

Royal Saint heads into the Super Derby off four consecutive wins, his latest in the $50,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs.

"Everything's a go," said Cole Norman, who trains Royal Saint and planned to work him five furlongs on Saturday.

Guy Smith has the mount in the Super Derby.

Silver Haze, who has won two stakes at the current Louisiana Downs meet and was third in the Prelude, was scheduled to breeze an easy half-mile on Saturday, said his trainer, Steve Wren. The colt will be ridden by E.J. Perrodin.

A decision on the status of Key Issues, the Prelude runner-up, will be made Tuesday, said his trainer, Gilbert Ciavaglia. The colt is also under consideration for the Indiana Derby, also on Oct. 1.

The Super Derby will be telecast on ESPN.