09/17/2004 12:00AM

Super Derby field at eight

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They are coming from both coasts and the Midwest for the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby, which had eight probables as of Friday. The 1 1/8-mile race will be run at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La. on Saturday.

Imperialism and Borrego are both scheduled to fly in from Southern California on Wednesday, while Caballero Negro vanned out of Calder Race Course in Miami on Friday morning, headed for Louisiana. Cryptograph has already arrived from Arlington Park near Chicago, and Fantasticat is set to van in from his Churchill Downs base on Tuesday. Xirius, who won a Group 1 in Panama earlier this year, will van in from his new base of Lone Star Park.

The shippers had two local rivals as of Friday: South Africa and Britt's Jules, the respective one-three finishers in the $60,000 Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 28.

Imperialism will be making his first start since finishing fifth in the Preakness on May 15. Kent Desormeaux will ride the colt, who is trained by Kristin Mulhall. Imperialism shows a series of endurance-minded works at Santa Anita in preparation for the Super Derby. The race is a nice fit for the colt, according to his owner, Steve Taub.

"Timing-wise it was correct," said Taub.

Taub purchased Imperialism in January, sent him to Mulhall, and by May had watched the colt finish third in the Kentucky Derby. Prior to the race, Imperialism won the Grade 2 San Vicente in February, the Grade 2 San Rafael in March, and finished third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby.

Based on his credentials, Imperialism could rule as the favorite in the Super Derby.

Borrego will also be well bet. He will be making his second start back from a layoff. Earlier this year, Borrego ran second to Wimbledon in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, and was the runner-up to Smarty Jones in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby. He went on to finish 10th in the Kentucky Derby, and is based at Hollywood Park.

"We're planning to breeze him one more time, and as long as the work goes well, as I expect it would, we'll be there," Beau Greely, who trains Borrego, said Friday.

Greely said Tyler Baze will ride Borrego. The jockey was aboard the colt last out, when he was second in the $80,000 El Cajon at Del Mar on Sept. 3.

Caballero Negro's connections intended to ship to Louisiana Downs last Tuesday, but Hurricane Ivan forced them to wait until Friday. In his last start, the colt won the $40,000 Silver Season over seven furlongs at Calder on Aug. 7.

Manuel Cruz rode Caballero Negro in that race, and he has the call in the Super Derby. Mario Morales trains the Formal Gold colt, and said through a translator that he is bringing Caballero Negro to town to "try him in a big race." Caballero Negro is owned by Veranda Farm. He is out of a Seattle Slew mare, Violet Lady, whose second dam produced Top Corsage and whose third dam produced Slewpy.

Fantasticat was a fast-closing second last out to the front-running South Africa in the Prelude. A son of Storm Cat, he is trained by Bobby Barnett, who plans to bring two other 3-year-olds for stakes on the Super Derby undercard.

One of them is Exploited Storm, who in his last start won the Paradise Creek Stakes at Arlington. He is being pointed for the $50,000 Wilhite Memorial for 3-year-olds on turf. The other is Key to the Cat, who is a candidate for the $100,000 Marie P. DeBartolo Oaks.

"Hopefully we'll have a very good day," said Barnett.

Gerard Melancon has the mount on Fantasticat, while John Jacinto will ride South Africa for leading trainer Cole Norman.

Britt's Jules, who was favored in the Prelude, will be ridden by Guy Smith.

"Everything's a go," said Eric Guillot, who trains Britt's Jules.

Before the Prelude, Britt's Jules was third to Sir Shackleton in the Grade 3, $600,000 West Virginia Derby.

The Super Derby will go as the 10th race on a 13-race card. First post will be 12:15 p.m. Central, with the Super Derby scheduled to go off at 5:05 p.m. The race will be shown live on HRTV, with analyst Jon White set to broadcast trackside at Louisiana Downs. The race is also expected to be broadcast on TVG.

Entries for the Super Derby will be taken on Wednesday.