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Friday, September 29
Super Derby is a two-horse race

BOSSIER CITY, La. - Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs comes down to a simple choice - Commendable, the Belmont Stakes winner, or Tiznow, the expected Super Derby favorite, who in his last start finished second to older horses in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.

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The field for the 1 1/4-mile Super Derby is completed by Mass Market, a troubled second in last month's Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby; Chris's Bad Boy and Clever Brick, who finished first and third, respectively, in the local prep for the race, the $50,000 Prelude Stakes; and White Star, a last-minute entry who was supplemented to the race for $15,000. In his last start White Star won the $60,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby.

Despite being the most accomplished colt in the field, Commendable has not won since his 18-1 upset in the Belmont Stakes on June 10. But he comes off a respectable third in the Travers and the field he faces Saturday is the easiest lineup he has met since running in allowance company in February.

"It looks like a good spot for him," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who is pointing Commendable to the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic. "His options were to stay in the East and run in either the Gold Cup or the Woodward - and we felt getting a mile and a quarter against straight 3-year-olds beat the heck out of facing Lemon Drop Kid. And, this race has been kind to us before."

Lukas has won the Super Derby twice from four starters. In 1996 he won with another Belmont winner, Editor's Note, and in 1981 he won with Island Whirl. Also in Commendable's favor is that the Super Derby has been kind to horses who last raced on the East Coast. In 20 runnings, 13 horses who raced last in the East have won the race.

"If he runs to the Commendable I saw in the Belmont, and the Commendable I know, I think he'll run great," said Lukas, who has given the mount to Pat Day.

Commendable and Tiznow (above) hope to hold off a field of lesser knowns in Saturday's $500,000 Super Derby XXI.
Chris McCarron will ride Tiznow, who has stepped up his game over the past three months, first defeating Dixie Union, who in his next start won the Grade 1 Haskell, and then running second to Captain Steve, who returned to beat older horses in the $500,000 Kentucky Cup.

McCarron first teamed with Tiznow in his last start, the Pacific Classic, and the colt turned in a career performance, finishing second to Skimming, and earning the Super Derby field's highest Beyer Speed Figure, a 115.

But for all his accomplishments, Tiznow, like his brother, $2.8 million winner Budroyale, has yet to win a Grade 1 race. And while the colt, who has started just six times in his career because of an injury suffered at 2, could easily make that happen Saturday, there are reasons to believe he is a vulnerable favorite.

For starters, he has never raced outside of his native California. He also must carry seven more pounds than he did in the Pacific Classic. And when he defeated Dixie Union in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap, he was carrying 11 fewer pounds than Dixie Union.

But trainer Jay Robbins said weight should not be an issue for Tiznow.

"He's a big horse and, physically, I don't think the weight will affect him much," he said. "I think he's coming into the race as well as always, and if he handles the surface, he should run well."

Chris's Bad Boy should set the early pace in the Super Derby, with Commendable and Tiznow in close pursuit. Tiznow will be tested late not only by the burden of weight, but also by Commendable, the class of the field who has raced exclusively in Grade 1 or Grade 2 company in his last eight starts.

The Super Derby will be broadcast on ESPN's Racing to the Breeders' Cup from 4-4:30 p.m. Eastern.

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