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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Strong Super Derby for Strong Contender

- Looks like Lawyer Ron was up to his old tricks in the Super Derby. Whereas he seemed to relax easily in the St. Louis Derby, this time, as at Oaklawn in the Arkansas Derby earlier in the year, he pulled jockey John McKee to the lead. “He was rank,” Lawyer Ron’s trainer, Bob Holtus, said. “He didn’t want to relax. The third-quarter mile is what did him in. He’s only had one race in five months. He beat himself.” [Shreveport Times]

Looking at the race chart, it seems as if it was really the second quarter that got him beat. He went from a half-length off the pace at the quarter-mile mark to the lead by the half, in a quarter that went in 23.01; so that was likely a sub 23 second quarter for Lawyer Ron. He then went 24.08 to the three-quarter mark. Considering that the final three furlongs were run in 37.75, I'd say that Lawyer Ron did very well to put up the strong resistance to Strong Contender that he did, finally succumbing by a length.

The winner got his first win around two turns, and perhaps he really has matured into the horse that he's been built up to be by his trainer John Ward, who was stuck in Kentucky due to bad weather. "Physically, the best I've ever seen him is right now, and he's still a pretty lightly raced horse," said Barry Knight, Ward's assistant. [Shreveport Times]

Winning jockey Robbie Albarado said that Strong Contender "wants to go a little farther," and, regarding the mile and a quarter Classic, Ward said "We'll watch and see what the other (possible) participants do. I'd like to see him go a mile-and-a-quarter."

- Albarado rode three other stakes winners on the card, including Birdbirdistheword in the Harrah's Juvenile on the turf for trainer Kenneth McPeek. You may remember that McPeek "retired" last year, but that retirement lasted less than a year before he returned. And he's come back with a vengeance, sporting a 2006 winning percentage of over 20% thus far with a smaller stable than before. "The one thing I learned from before was this -- do not get too big. So I will restrict my numbers this time around." [McPeek Racing]

Birdbirdistheword is McPeek's first stakes winner since his comeback, and his first since Sweet Talker took the Edgewood at Churchill in May 2005. This two-year old son of Pure Prize is now two-for-two on the grass, and made the successful leap from maiden to stakes company.