09/18/2001 11:00PM

Touch Tone out of Super Derby


Touch Tone will miss at least six months of racing including the Grade 1, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., on Sunday after his connections discovered a bone chip in his right knee. He is believed to have sustained the injury last Sunday during his final workout for the Super Derby, and is to undergo surgery to remove the chip in Kentucky, said Tom Durant the colt's owner.

Durant said Touch Tone would then be brought to his home in Texas to heal, and if things go well, there is a chance he could return to the races late next spring at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Touch Tone, a winner of $607,850, was the probable second choice in the Super Derby behind E Dubai, who was to arrive at Louisiana Downs on Thursday.

"We were hoping to do well in the Super Derby and take him to the Breeders' Cup, but all that is out the window now," said Durant. "He has trained really well, and his last work was a super work. Evidently it happened in the work. He didn't have any problem going into the work."

Touch Tone, who is trained by Ronny Werner, won the $250,000 Iowa Derby by 7 1/4 lengths in July, finished second to Belmont and Preakness Stakes winner Point Given in the Grade 1 Haskell in August, and in his most recent start was third in the Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby.

Velazquez to ride E Dubai

New York-based jockey John Velazquez has picked up the mount on probable favorite E Dubai for the Super Derby, as riding committments will keep regular rider Jerry Bailey from traveling to Louisiana Downs for the race. Bailey has been aboard E Dubai for his past four starts, which include a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, and a win in the Grade 2 Dwyer.

E Dubai, who could be the controlling speed in the Super Derby with the defection of Touch Tone, worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.42 seconds at his Belmont Park-base last Sunday. "He's in fantastic condition," said Tom Albertrani, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "He's done very well since the Travers."

In the Travers, E Dubai contested the pace throughout before finishing second, beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Point Given. Before that race he was a 5 3/4-length winner of the Dwyer. E Dubai, a son of Mr. Prospector, has won three of six career starts and $385,800 for owner Godolphin Racing.

In other Super Derby developments, Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap winner Until Sundown arrived from Southern California on Wednesday. Stakes supporting the Super Derby this weekend include the $100,000 Louisiana Downs Handicap on Saturday, which is expected to draw Northcote Road, Nat's Big Party, and Maysville Slew.

Handle up, gate down at Houston

Sam Houston closed out its 47-night Quarter Horse meet last Sunday with an increase in average handle and purses paid, but a drop in attendance. An average of 4,234 patrons attended the races nightly during the meet, down from last year's standard of 4,518, while handle on the track's races rose slightly to $730,444. Purses averaged $81,783.

Janet VanBebber, whose late husband Steve VanBebber won every Quarter Horse training title at Sam Houston since the track opened in 1994, carried on the family tradition in the stable's first season without Steve by winning this year's title with 58 wins. Alvin Brossette was the leading jockey, while the owner title was shared by Betty Jane Burlin and Darlene Jones and Doyle Shamblin. The horse of the meet was Bugs by Yawl.

Thoroughbred meet goes 82 days

Sam Houston Race Park in Houston will offer 35 stakes worth more than $1.6 million when it opens for 82 days of Thoroughbred racing Nov. 1. The meet, which will average $100,000 a day in purses, runs through March 30.

Highlights of the stakes schedule include Texas Champions Day on Dec. 1, a card of eight stakes for statebreds and one open stakes for 2-year-olds worth a cumulative $650,000. Other top races include the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup for older horses over 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 19, and the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf on Feb. 23.

The stable area opens Oct. 17.

*Lone Star Park near Dallas was to donate 1 percent of handle from its Quarter Horse races Thursday night to the NTRA Charities-New York Heroes Fund.

*Pesky Rascal heads the $20,000 Red Earth Overnight Handicap Friday night at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. The one-mile turf race features some of the locals pointing for the $100,000 Remington Green Handicap on Nov. 3.