The Super Derby always has been one of my favorite races. I got to cover the race
three times for the Form back in the '90s, and the races were eerily similar. The speed
stopped, and the closers got the money.
I'm kind of sorry I haven't got to get down to the Derby in recent years. The poker rooms
on the Bossier City riverboats are terrific (you can be the worst poker player in the
world -- ahem -- and still break even.) And the margaritas and Chinese next door in
Shreveport are to die for.
And in case you caught the Miss America show last weekend, runnerup Miss Louisiana
would get lost in the crowd on a Saturday night at the Bossier City Hilton.
That said, back to Saturday's Silver Anniversary running of the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs,
which is up one exit north of the Bossier City Hilton. Truth be told, this year's Super Derby is
super in name only. There is not a Grade 1 winner in the field of nine, and only three of the
nine has a triple-digit Beyer in his resume.
Oh my goodness, does this mean that Steve Crist's book-signing at the video poker machines
will be the highlight of the day?
Not so fast.
This may not be the best Super Derby in history, but it is a good betting race...and the last I
looked, there has to be a winner.
I believe the winner will be Cryptograph.
Glad you asked.
I watched Cryptograph in action last spring at Oaklawn Park (two hours north of Bossier), and
was dutifully impressed. His fourth to Smarty Jones from post nine in the Rebel was better
than it looks on paper. Since leaving Hot Springs, he has won stakes at Lone Star and Arlington,
and he has been working lights-out for young Von Hemel.
Toss in the facts that Cryptograph gets the one-hole, and that main rivals Borrego and Imperialism
may be short on condition, and we're looking at a likely 5-1 winner.
The only negative. I see that Mike Watchmaker likes the same horse.
North East Bound it seems has been around forever. And indeed he has. Now I see that the
old boy (age 8) finally is being retired, and will live out his days enjoying the lush surroundings
of Sunny Oak Farm in central Kentucky.
When I think of North East Bound, I think of old friend George Bernet, my old editor at the
Form, and currently the notes-writer at Monmouth Park. Bernet presently is building a new
house, and, no doubt, he is financing it with the money he made betting on North East Bound.
North East Bound won a dozen races in his career, and virtually every time he was a price.
And virtually every time Bernet had him. But the biggest race of North East Bound's career
was a second (at 80-1) to War Chant in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile. And you have to know
that Bernet had the exacta.
Incidentally, if North East Bound had won that race, his owners would have had the only
winning Pick Three ticket, which would have paid $1 million plus.
Their ticket: all-all-North East Bound!
"Hey, he was my meal ticket," says Bernet. "He'll be missed."
Speaking of Monmouth, it looks like Top Five rider Chuck Lopez will be grounded much longer
than originally expected.
Lopez, whose career traces back to the mid '70s when he was riding winners for Dan Lasater
and David Vance at old Keystone, suffered a dislocated shoulder Sept. 11 in a first-race spill
Originally it was thought that Lopez would be out three-four weeks, but the injury has not
healed properly, and Chuck is looking at rotator cuff surgery.
Hopefully, Chuck will make it back. He's one of the good guys.
A footnote to the story:
When Lopez was placed in the ambulance outside the first aid room for the trip to Monmouth
Medical that day, only one jockey bothered to find the time to be there: Eibar Coa.
If Chuck Lopez is indeed nearing the end of his career, Kyle Kaenel is just beginning is.
The 16-year-old son of Cowboy Jack Kaenel just got his riding license this month, and last
Monday, he rode his first winner, a 30-1 shot named Load a Chronic at Kentucky Downs
(nee Dueling Grounds).
Cowboy Jack won a lot of noses during his bright-lights career. It's a good omen that son
Kyle's first win was by a nose.
And, finally, why all this negativity in the Form?
In Thursday's edition...
1) A writer described in his stakes advance that "a motley cast of 2-year-olds" was entered
in the Gateway to Glory Stakes at Fairplex.
2) A writer said that last weekend's renewal of the Belmont Futurity "came up very weak." I
would love to see the writer's reaction if Park Avenue Ball should win the Champagne and/or
the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
One baseball note:
Some of these late-season lines are off the charts. Tonight, for example, the Red Sox are 8-9
over the Yanks, and the Angels are 7-8 over the Athletics.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that you bet the ranch on the dogs. I'm just saying
these games should be pick 'em.
The last I looked, the Yanks won 11-1 last Sunday with the same pitching matchup, and the
Angels are playing downright awful.
But of course we all know that Vegas doesn't make mistakes.