09/11/2007 11:00PM

Turf races draw flood of interest

EmailBOSSIER CITY, La. - Next Saturday's Super Derby is the highlight of the biggest day of the Louisiana Downs meet, but the four supporting turf races, all worth $200,000, have drawn a lot of interest themselves.

"It has been crazy," said Tommy Sibille, the track's stakes coordinator, during a brief lull in what seemed to be a constant stream of phone calls Wednesday morning. "This has got to be some kind of record for nominations. It seems everybody is interested in those turf races."

With two days to go before Friday's deadline, Sibille had received more than 200 nominations for the Marie DeBartolo Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, the Sunday Silence for 2-year-olds, the Happy Ticket for 2-year-old fillies, and the Unbridled for 3-year-olds and upward.

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel will be well-represented on Super Derby Saturday. Von Hemel sent out last year's Marie DeBartolo winner, Brownie Points, and will have Whisper to Me in this year's edition following a win in last month's Lyrique Stakes.

Von Hemel also said that Vengeful Shadow is definite for the Happy Ticket. She seems to have found a home on the grass, winning her maiden in special weight company at Lone Star before running a surprisingly good second in the Donnie Wilhite Memorial in her stakes debut. All of that success came after Vengeful Shadow failed to show much against maiden claiming company on the main track.

"We almost turned her out before her maiden win," Von Hemel said. "She looked like she was trying to do a little something late in those dirt races, so we decided to try the grass. She has really turned around."

Von Hemel confirmed that Going Ballistic, third in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington, remains a definite for the Super Derby. He also said that Storm City, the third-place finisher in last month's Prelude Stakes, remains a possibility.

* Prelude winner Forty Acres had his last serious work before the Super Derby this past Sunday. With regular rider Carlos Gonzalez up, Forty Acres drilled five furlongs in 58.60 seconds, the fastest of 46 at the distance.