Arkansas Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Temperence Hill gave Louisiana Downs' signature race a touch of class in winning the inaugural Super Derby.
Hot Springs lumberman John Ed Anthony's Stop the Music colt, trained by Joe Cantey, received the Eclipse Award as male 3-year-old champion of 1980.
Another Hot Springs horseman can go in the history books today as the owner of the first Super Derby on turf.
Mr. Misunderstood, Staton Flurry's 3-year-old Archarcharch gelding, received a fees-paid entry to the $200,000 race with his Aug. 5 victory in the track's Super Derby Prelude. With a 4-for-4 record on turf, Mr. Misunderstood is 9-5 program favorite in a six-horse field going a mile and sixteenth and including Kentucky Derby starter Sonneteer.
"I'll feel even better when he gets the job done," said Flurry, whose 3-year-old Arkansas-bred gelding Five O One won Oaklawn Park's $100,000 Rainbow in March.
After two starts on dirt, Mr. Misunderstood tipped his hand with a two-length maiden victory going a mile on turf at Indiana Grand last fall. Flurry got lucky two starts later when Mr. Misunderstood, running for a $30,000 tag, won on the Fair Grounds turf in late December and went unclaimed.
"Lucky for us, nobody took him," Flurry said. "Two horses in the race got claimed, but no took ours."
Later came the news that after 37 dirt runnings, Louisiana Downs was switching the Super Derby to grass.
"As soon as we heard that, we thought about giving him a shot in the Super Derby," said Flurry, who has turned down a six-figure offer for Mr. Misunderstood. "His first race on grass was unbelievable."
A nine-length Fair Grounds winner in a race taken off the turf, Mr. Misunderstood finished seventh in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby before resting more than three months. Trainer Brad Cox and jockey Chris Rosier complete the ensemble, Rosier coming in from Oklahoma City (Remington Park) for today's race.
A 28-percent winner at Oaklawn this year, Cox has several other horses on the 13-race Louisiana Downs card, which includes seven stakes. Flurry considers the 37-year-old Cox, whose clients include Little Rock automobile dealer Steve Landers, one of the sport's top 10 trainers and especially strong with turf horses.
Flurry, who parks cars during the Oaklawn meeting, can almost match the $130,000 for which he bought Mr. Misunderstood at sale with a victory. The Super Derby, listed as race 11, goes off at 5:06 p.m. CDT.
"On paper, it looks we like have a big advantage in speed figures," Flurry said. "But once we get to the track and get settled in, it's going to be a nerve-wracking day."Sports on 09/09/2017
Print Headline: Spa City horsemen seeks LaD top prize