Superbity did not merely defeat his nine ri- vals in the Flamingo Stakes today. He humiliated them so thoroughly that they can barely be taken seriously as Kentucky Derby candidates again.
In what was supposed to have been the most competitive running of the Hialeah classic in years, Superbity ran away by a startling six lengths over Koluctoo Bay. His time was still rather unimpressive, and the ease with with he won strongly suggested thatthe horses behind him were less than genuine.
One of the highly regarded rivals behind him was Rockhill Native, the 2-year-old champion of 1979, who finished third with no excuses.
Just two weeks ago, Rockhill Native had handed Superbity the first defeat of his career in the Everglades Stakes here, sitting in third place while Superbity and another horse engaged in a suicidal battle for the early lead. Today, Rockhill Native didn't have such ideal fortune, and Superbity managed to avoid another exercise in self-destruction.
Only one other horse in the field, Colonel Moran, had early speed and he had drawn the inside post position. This posed a problem for Jacinto Vasquez, who was breaking from No. 10 on Superbity. He had to hustle his horse to get into position, but not so much that he would get into an uncontrollable speed duel like the last time.
"I told the jockey not to try to run head and head like the last time," said trainer Melvin (Sunshine) Calvert. "I figured that the one horse would be on the lead for him to take back."
Vasquez did everything perfectly. He gunned Superbity enough to get close to the rail at the first turn, and then let Colonel Moran go. While the two of them had secured good position for themselves, jockey John Oldham was losing valuable ground, racing five horses wide around the first turn.
Colonel Moran was flying on the early lead, running the first half-mile in a swift :45 4/5 over a dull racing sttrip, and three-quarters of a mile in 1:10 4/5. Superbity stalked him until Vasquez passed him to make a move on the far turn. When he did, the 3-to-2 Colonel Moran collapsed as if he were a gutless claiming horse, and Superbity suddenly found himself two, three, four lengths in front.
Only Rockhill Native was making a semblance of a move at the leader, but his bid on the stretch turn petered out almost before it had begun. As Superbity came to the wire six lengths in front, Koluctoo Bay drove up the rail to take second place by a nose.
Superbity had covered the last eighth of a mile in a ludicrously slow 14 1/5 seconds, but none of the other horses was able to gain appreciably on him. His final time of 1:51 1/5 for the mile and one-eighth was also dismally slow. Earlier in the afternoon, a $65,000 claiming horse had covered the same distnce in 1:51.
Superbity paid $16.40, $7.20 and $4.20. Koluctoo Bay returned $15.80 and $5.20 and Rockhill Native paid $2.60 to show.
At least Superbity has demonstrated more consistency and gameness than the other members of the current generation of 3-year-olds. His victory today was his fifth in six races since his career began in December.
"I'm very proud of him," said Calvert.
But there wasn't much for other trainers to be proud of. Colonel Moran struggled home seventh. Prince Valiant, the brilliantly bred Greentree Stable colt, barely picked up his feet and finished ninth.
Rockhill Native won't get much acclaim for his performance, either, although he will get the same excuses that accompanied his terrible showing in the Bahamas Stakes here. They started as soon as his jockey dismounted.