Updated on 09/16/2011 9:17AM

There's no clear-cut favorite


BOSSIER CITY, La. - In each of the past five years, betting on the Super Derby has been dominated by an odds-on favorite, but when Louisiana Downs runs its signature race on Saturday the money will be much more evenly distributed.

As many as four horses could vie for favoritism in the $500,000 Super Derby, which this year has been shortened in distance from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/8 miles and downgraded to a Grade 2 after being run as a Grade 1 since 1983.

Private Emblem, never beaten at the Super Derby's new distance, and The Judge Sez Who, no worse than third in four derbies this season, figure to attract the most public support.

But Essence of Dubai will also have his share of backers following a runner-up finish to Harlan's Holiday last out in the Grade 3, $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby, and those looking for a colt poised to peak could settle upon the developing A.P. Five Hundred.

Adding more depth to the eight-horse field is Thunder Days, a Grade 1-placed colt who gets back to his best trip, two turns; and Glitzi's Classic, a powerful winner last out of the $50,000 Prelude, which is the local prep for the Super Derby.

The nine furlongs of the Super Derby would seem to most benefit Private Emblem, who has proven he likes the distance. "He's 2 for 2," said Steve Asmussen, the nation's leading trainer by wins who manages the colt for James Cassels and Bob Zollars. "The proof is in the pudding, so to speak."

There's lots of pudding. Both of Private Emblem's wins at the distance have come in stakes. He delivered at nine furlongs in the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn in April, and won the $181,000 Albany for New York-breds at Saratoga at the distance in his last start Aug. 21.

Eibar Coa will be aboard The Judge Sez Who, pure hickory from Florida who has won 7 of 16 starts and $505,876. In his last out, he surged late in the mud to win the Grade 3, $300,000 Oklahoma Derby by a half-length over Iowa Derby winner Easyfromthegitgo.

One start prior, The Judge Sez Who was beaten a neck at Mountaineer Park in the Grade 3, $600,000 West Virginia Derby.

"The thing I like best about him is that he tries every time," said Milton Wolfson, who trains The Judge Sez Who for Richard Simon. "That's all you can ask of him."

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