The 38th running of the $200,000 Super Derby will be the first running on turf and although only six are entered the race is very intriguing from a handicapping standpoint. Prelude Stakes winner Mr. Misunderstood and runner-up Fast Talking Man have experience on the course but three others may have a class edge as they have been facing much tougher horses. That trio is led by Gorgeous Kitten, who finished second in the Grade 3 American Derby in July before a fifth place finish in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes. Phat Man drops in class off a sixth place finish (on dirt) in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby while Grade 2 Rebel Stakes runner-up Sonneteer dropped to the maiden ranks following a 16th place finish in the Kentucky Derby to win on the turf last month. Flying Honeypot rounds out the field and appears overmatched.
Phat Man was overmatched in the West Virginia Derby last month but won the Long Branch Stakes (a non-graded stakes like the Super Derby) just prior to that. Both of those races were on dirt, as was his win in June before the Long Branch, which earned him a career best 105 Equibase Speed Figure and is the best figure earned by any horse in the Super Derby field on dirt or grass. Having proven capable in his most recent race on turf in March when second, Phat Man can post the upset in this year's Super Derby by repeating either of his strong winning efforts from June or July.
Sonneteer was so highly regarded by his connections that even though a maiden (non-winner) he ran in three consecutive stakes races this spring. In one of those, the Rebel Stakes in March, Sonneteer rallied for second at 112 to 1 odds and earned a career best 103 figure. His 11th to fourth rallying finish in the Arkansas Derby a month later wasn't bad either, before a 16th place effort in the Kentucky Derby. Returned to the maiden ranks in May, Sonneteer finished fourth on dirt then when trying turf for the first time in July he rallied from seventh to get up and win by a nose. Now that he has found a home on turf and previously proven with some of the top three year olds in the country, Sonneteer has every right to win this year's Super Derby.
Gorgeous Kitten hasn't done much wrong in his career, with five first or second place finishes from nine starts. His best effort in a stakes came when second in the American Derby one before his last start and his best figure of 101 was earned two before that in April when winning on turf at Keeneland. Perhaps the mile and one-quarter trip, or the grade 1 competition, or both, in last month's Secretariat Stakes was too much for Gorgeous Kitten but he faces easier competition in the Super Derby and should return to competitive form.
Mr. Misunderstood and Fast Talkin Man finished first and second, respectively, in the Prelude Stakes over the course last month, the winner earning a 99 figure and the runner-up a 95 figure. Both horses would need to improve considerably to be competitive with the top three contenders and considering Mr. Misunderstood opens as the favorite, that makes the race a good betting race in my opinion. Flying Honeypot earned a career best 94 figure on dirt in July and appears to be a bit overmatched as well as unproven on the turf.
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