Louisborg, Almost Certain lead field for Oklahoma Derby

Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 3:11 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Louisborg, the third-place finisher behind two Breeders' Cup Classic-bound horses in his most recent race, was installed Tuesday as the morning-line favorite for the Oklahoma Derby, Remington Park's most lucrative race.

Remington Park officials drew post positions Tuesday morning for Friday night's $250,000 race, the biggest on a card that also will include five other races with purse money of $50,000 or more. Track oddsmaker Dale Day made Louisborg, starting from the No. 7 post, the 3-1 favorite.

Master of Disaster, a Maryland-based horse, initially was listed as the second favorite at 7-2, but trainer Steve Klesaris said Tuesday afternoon that he would scratch his horse from the race after drawing the No. 11 post in the 12-horse field. Master of Disaster instead will be pointed to a Grade III race at Aqueduct in New York the following week.

``I said going in that if it's not a favorable draw, we're not going to go,'' Klesaris said.

Master of Disaster's defection makes Almost Certain the second favorite at 5-1. Sensational Score, who will ship in from California, is the third favorite at 6-1.

With five career starts, Louisborg and longshot Like an Eagle are the two most lightly raced horses in the field, but Louisborg's third-place finish behind Strong Contender and Lawyer Ron in the Grade II Super Derby at Louisiana Downs is arguably the most impressive result among horses planning to run in the Oklahoma Derby.

Like the Super Derby, the Oklahoma Derby is run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles.

Louisborg, trained by Tony Richey, went off at 15-1 odds in the Super Derby after winning three of his first four career starts and will be making his first start at Remington Park. Lonnie Meche will ride the Canada-bred son of Victory Gallop for the fourth time.

In his last start, Almost Certain, a Kentucky-bred son of Favorite Trick, finished second to Louisborg in the Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 1. Trained by Bart Evans, Almost Certain has been in the money in five of eight lifetime starts but hasn't won since September 2005. Gerard Melancon will ride.

Florida-bred Sensational Score, trained by Michael Machowsky, posted his second career win in his last start, the Pomona Derby at Fairplex on Sept. 23. His sire, Wild Rush, won what is now the Oklahoma Derby in 1997.

Remington Park officials had hoped that Brother Derek, one of 35 3-year-olds nominated for the race, would be in the field. Brother Derek finished fourth in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, then sat out for more than three months before returning to the track in September.

In his second start since that break, Brother Derek finished second behind top older horse Lava Man on Oct. 7 in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita in California, prompting his connections to opt for a shot at the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Remington Park general manager Scott Wells said that Brother Derek's nomination to the Oklahoma Derby field likely scared off some trainers who didn't want to risk running their horses against him.

This is the 18th year the track has held the Oklahoma Derby, which until 2000 was known as the Remington Park Derby. It received Grade III status from 1999 to 2004, and Wells said regaining that status for the race is a top priority for track officials.

The Oklahoma Derby field, from the rail out, will be Casino Evil (Justin Shepherd, 10-1); Private Fight (Glen Murphy, 20-1); Like an Eagle (Carlos Marquez Jr., 20-1); Wait in Line (Roman Chapa, 20-1); Sensational Score (Michael Baze, 6-1); More Than Regal (Tim Doocy, 8-1); Louisborg (Meche, 3-1); Almost Certain (Gerard Melancon, 5-1); Mr. Pursuit (Cliff Berry, 12-1); R's Star (Carlos Montalvo, 20-1); and Belligerence (Richard Eramia, 20-1).