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Departing last won the West Virginia Derby on Aug. 3, romping to a 8 3/4 length victory (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).

The 34rd running of the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby features Grade 2 West Virginia Derby winner Departing, who also won the Grade 3 Illinois Derby earlier this year. With only six others signed on, Departing should be formidable once more, but Prelude Stakes winner Holiday Mischief just beat multiple stakes winner Sunbean and may be capable of winning again. Trainer Wayne Catalano sends out a pair in Treasury Bill and Cameo Appearance. Treasury Bill finished second in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes earlier this year but has nothing better than a third place finish in five races since. Cameo Appearance may be the horse in front early and enters the race off a third place finish in the Straight Line Stakes following two straight wire-to-wire wins so has potential to upset. Bashaar comes from far back and although he could not muster a rally when fourth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes recently, his closing third place effort prior to that in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby could get him a share of the purse here if repeated. Ruler of Love was well clear of the third place horse in the West Virginia Derby although well behind Departing and is another that could be competitive, while Runaway Stephen hopes to improve off his third place finish behind Holiday Mischief in the Prelude Stakes.

Cameo Appearance made his three-year-old debut in June, following 10 months off and after moving to the barn of trainer Wayne Catalano, immediately succeeding with a powerful five length win leading from start to finish. Improving to a career best 108 Equibase Speed Figure when leading from start to finish once again in his second start of the year, Cameo Appearance stretched out to a mile (around one turn) for the Straight Line Stakes, stepping up significantly in class but competitive to near the end with a third place finish. Trying two turns for the first time in the Super Derby, Cameo Appearance could use his best asset, his early speed, to his advantage here and slow down the pace. Doing so, it might become difficult for the closers, including favorite Departing, to pass him late and therefore Cameo Appearance could post the upset in this year's Super Derby.

Departing earned a very strong 118 Figure winning the West Virginia Derby in powerful fashion by eight and three-quarter lengths last month, his second graded stakes win from his last three starts. Now a winner in four of six two-turn races, Departing need only repeat that last effort to win the Super Derby. If that is to occur, Departing would likely need to be much closer to likely pacesetter Cameo Appearance in the early stages, which isn't out of the question as he won the Texas Heritage Stakes in March when sitting in third position with about a quarter mile to run.

Holiday Mischief has something the other main contenders do not have and that is positive experience over the track. Having won the Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs last month and with an improving pattern of Equibase Speed Figures, his last a career best 107, Holiday Mischief cannot be counted out as a contender to win this race.


Holiday Mischief

Photo courtesy of Lou Hodges

The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed Figures, is Bashaar (101), Ruler of Love (105), Runaway Stephen (96) and Treasury Bill (105).

My Selections:

Cameo Appearance


Holiday Mischief

$500,000 Super Derby

Saturday, Louisiana Downs, Race 11, 5:15 p.m. ET

3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)







Bashaar (KY)

C. Hill

D C Peitz



Holiday Mischief (KY)

M.C. Berry

J S Offolter



Runaway Stephen (KY)

C.R. Rosier

J M Foster



Treasury Bill (KY)

R.E. Eramia

W M Catalano



Ruler of Love (FL)

S. Spieth

J Scott



Cameo Appearance (KY)

P.A. Valenzuela

W M Catalano



Departing (KY)

R. Albarado

A M Stall Jr.


All runners carry 124 pounds


Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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