09/26/2005 11:00PM

Super Derby distance suits A.P. Arrow

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A.P. Arrow looks like a triple threat in the Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Saturday. He is the lone horse in the field with a win over the race's mile and a quarter distance, he is a late foal just now coming into his own, and he is trained by Wayne Lukas.

Lukas is dangerous with promising 3-year-olds who want a route of ground, as evidenced by his 13 victories in Triple Crown races. Lukas has also won the Super Derby twice, with Island Whirl and Editor's Note, and on Tuesday said the distance of the race is one of the main draws for A.P. Arrow.

"We think he's probably a true mile and a quarter or beyond horse," said Lukas. "And at this time of the year, it's hard to find those races for 3-year-olds."

The Super Derby has returned to its original distance after being run over a mile and an eighth from 2002 through 2004.

"I think the race takes on a new dimension now that they put it back at a mile and a quarter," said Lukas. "Of course, the winner probably has qualified himself to maybe look at the Breeders' Cup."

That could become the game plan for A.P. Arrow.

"He has to earn his way," said Lukas. "If he was to have a good, strong showing on Saturday, we would look in that direction."

A.P. Arrow seems to be sitting on a big race. A May foal, he enters the Super Derby off an entry-level allowance win at Saratoga on Aug. 21. A.P. Arrow rallied from last for a head win, and earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 90.

"He's got a very strong finish to him, and as he develops, that finish is going to get better," said Lukas. "And it doesn't have to get much better. He's doing very good."

Spanish Mission finished second in the race, and flattered A.P. Arrow by returning to win an allowance at Belmont by seven lengths, earning a Beyer of 101.

Earlier this year, A.P. Arrow finished fifth in the Belmont Stakes. He had won his maiden one start prior, at a mile and a quarter at Churchill Downs on May 14. He is a son of A.P. Indy, and is a half-brother to Geri, a Grade 1 winner of $1.7 million. Corey Lanerie has the mount on A.P. Arrow, who was to van in from Kentucky on Thursday.

Farms hit hard by Rita

In less than one month, Louisiana has been blindsided by two hurricanes that have taken painful swipes at the state's flourishing racing and gaming industry. But the storms will not keep Louisiana Downs and Evangeline Downs, the only tracks in Louisiana able to operate right now, from putting on the richest races of their meets Saturday.

On Tuesday, the Super Derby had a prospective field of 10. The $317,931 Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders' Sale Futurity will be the richest race ever run at the new Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La.

Hurricane Katrina shut down Fair Grounds in New Orleans when it hit Aug. 28, and Hurricane Rita came ashore last Saturday over southwestern Louisiana, which is home to many of the state's horse farms.

"We were poised in the best position that racing has ever been [in this state], and we've had two catastrophes," said David Yount, executive director of racing at Evangeline.

Rita has closed Delta Downs in Vinton indefinitely, and Mona Romero, executive director of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, has been fielding calls from a number of farms near the track.

"I'm afraid Rita, after all is said and done, might have hit more of the horse population than Katrina did," she said.

Romero has had contact with, among others, a Quarter Horse operation that reported 20 horses standing in knee-deep water. Another farm had four of its barns demolished in the storm, and has been forced to turn fit racehorses out together in a large pasture.

"I haven't talked to many people down there yet, but those I have had extensive damage," said Leverne Perry, executive director of the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association. "Most of their damage was from the wind blowing barns down."

Since the end of August when Katrina hit farms outside of New Orleans, Romero has been coordinating feed deliveries to operations there, some of which still have not had power restored. She is now doing the same for the victims of Rita, and in the next week is expecting a new shipment of horse supplies from the National HBPA.