08/02/2005 11:00PM

Two local contenders emerge for Super Derby


BOSSIER CITY, La. - With the arrival of August and more triple-digit temperatures, nothing helps ease the dog days of summer like thoughts of cool autumn weather and the arrival of the $750,000 Super Derby on Oct. 1.

While the injury to dual classic winner Afleet Alex has the connections of top 3-year-olds reassessing their fall plans, the local 3-year-old contingent continues to firm up.

Locally based 3-year-olds have consistently made an impact in the Super Derby, from Free Spirit's Joy's upset of Olympio in 1991 to surprising second-place finishes by Happyasalark Tomas, Big Earl, and Walk in the Snow. Perhaps there is no understating the home-track advantage.

This year's best hopes seem to be Silver Haze, a two-time stakes winner here on the turf who recently moved back to dirt with a solid effort in the Ohio Derby, and Royal Saint, an impressive allowance winner here last Friday, when he made his first start around two turns.

Trained by Cole Norman, Royal Saint is by Saint Ballado out of the Deputy Minister mare Deputy Royal, a half-sister to Grade 1 winners Louis Quatorze and Royal Indy, so it was not surprising that he relished the added distance. Rating very kindly under Guy Smith through early fractions of 24.39 and 48.18 seconds, Royal Saint picked up the pace into the far turn and put a head in front soon after three-quarters in 1:12.13. He leveled out nicely down the lane and drew clear en route to a final clocking of 1:41.08 for the mile and 70 yards, earning a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

Norman has said that Royal Saint's next start could come in the Prelude Stakes on Sept. 5. The winner of that race receives a berth into the Super Derby.

Barn Bug favorite in feature

Friday's one-other-than allowance feature for Louisiana-breds drew seven horses and will be run at a mile and 70 yards.

Barn Bug is the likely favorite after finishing second in three consecutives races, including one that had the same conditions as Friday's headliner.

Spend Dancer continues to make rapid progress for trainer Howard Scarberry and will attempt to make it two wins in a row following a sharp maiden score in his last start. Leading rider John Jacinto will ride.