09/21/2001 11:00PM

Super Derby: E Dubai's time to shine


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Last year's Grade 1, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs served as a coming-out party for Tiznow, who went on in his next start to win the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic and be crowned Horse of the Year. This year, the 1 1/4-mile race for 3-year-olds could serve as a breakout race for favorite E Dubai when it is run for the 22nd time Sunday.

E Dubai has spent much of his career racing in the shadows of more celebrated horses such as Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Point Given, behind whom he finished second to in the Travers last month. He has even played second fiddle in his own stable to such well-regarded colts as Street Cry and Express Tour.

But now it appears E Dubai's time has come. The Super Derby is his stage, and his race to win or lose. And, with a good performance, the Super Derby could serve as his springboard to the Breeders' Cup Classic, said Tom Albertrani, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

E Dubai, who is to be ridden by John Velazquez, will face eight others in the Super Derby, including Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap winner Until Sundown (Gary Stevens his rider), Grade 1 Florida Derby runner-up Outofthebox (Lonnie Meche), Grade 3 Round Table winner Discreet Hero (Kent Desormeaux), and Prelude Stakes winner Rare Cure (Ron Ardoin).

E Dubai, who is owned by Godolphin Inc., exhibited his class last month when he ran second in

the Travers. Before that he flashed brilliant speed winning the Grade 2 Dwyer, running the opening six furlongs of the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:07.80.

"He's a very consistent horse," said Albertrani. "He's won half of his starts. All he needs to do is run as consistent as he has in the past, and I think he will be very difficult to beat."

Judging by the fractions he set in the Dwyer, E Dubai should control the pace in the Super Derby. But if he falters, the horse most likely to spring the upset is Until Sundown, who finished fifth against older horses in his last start in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.

Until Sundown has developed rapidly under the direction of trainer Laura de Seroux. In his first season of racing this year, he has won three of seven starts, taking the Affirmed over eventual Grade 3 Remington Park Derby winner Top Hit, then finishing second, beaten four lengths by Congaree, in the Grade 1 Swaps.

Until Sundown's tactical speed makes him dangerous Sunday. "You can place him anywhere, and he has an acceleration," said de Seroux. "He has enough speed to be second sprinting first time out to a horse like Crafty C.T., and he also has a [strong] stamina influence in his pedigree, being out of a Northern Baby mare."

Outofthebox is another who could step up and run a big race Sunday. He was a Triple Crown contender this year for trainer Bernie Flint until he sustained a minor injury in the Grade 3 Flamingo Stakes in April. He comes into the race on the heels of a conditioned allowance win at Saratoga.

Another to watch is Discreet Hero, an off-the-pace runner who will attempt to rebound from a fourth-place finish as the odds-on favorite in the Prelude, which was run here Sept. 3 over a wet track that produced front-running rail winners for almost the entire card. Before that race, he won three straight, including the Round Table, and was recently flattered when the second-place finisher from that race returned to win last month's $500,000 West Virginia Derby.

"We love the way our horse is coming up to the race," said Al Stall, who trains Discreet Hero for B. Wayne Hughes.

The field also includes Prelude runner-up Quadrophonic Sound, Kirk LeBlanc; Wow, Calvin Borel; and the Cole Norman-trained entry of Royal Spy, Anthony Lovato, and Seattle Night, Carlos Gonzalez.