04/01/2004 12:00AM

All eyes here on Ill. Derby


ALBANY, Calif. - Although there are no local stakes scheduled Saturday at Golden Gate Fields, northern California race fans still have a rooting interest in one of the day's major stakes races.

Three horses with local ties will be running in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course - El Camino Real Derby winner Kilgowan, Golden State Mile winner O.K. Mikie, and Gold Rush and Golden Gate Derby winner Skipaslew.

Kilgowan and O.K. Mikie are stabled locally with trainers Lonnie Arterburn and Jerry McArthur. Skipaslew, owned by San Mateo native Merv Griffin, has made his past four starts in northern California for trainer Doug O'Neill.

Kilgowan drew the rail, which didn't bother Arterburn.

"That's not too bad," he said. "I'd rather have that than the 11."

A late nominee to the Triple Crown, Kilgowan has won 3 of 5 starts, with his only bad effort coming in the Golden State Mile when he banged his head on the gate before the start of the race.

Arterburn said he liked Kilgowan's breeze over the Hawthorne track. "He dropped out real good," he said.

The colt, to be ridden by Chance Rollins, handled the trip well and "never missed an oat."

O.K. Mikie, who flew to Chicago with Kilgowan last Saturday, didn't handle the trip quite as well, according to McArthur.

"It took him two days to regroup, so I'm glad I shipped early," McArthur said. "He's feeling good. He breezed down the lane and seemed to like it."

McArthur gave the mount to Golden Gate Fields leading jockey Kevin Radke for the first time after O.K. Mikie's troubled fourth-place finish in the El Camino. McArthur is not concerned about having drawn post 9.

"Mikie's just going to break and settle back," he said.

Skipaslew ran seventh in the El Camino after winning two stakes.

"Everything went great on his trip Wednesday, and he galloped strong and good Thursday," O'Neill said. "We gave him some time to freshen up before the El Camino and maybe that caused him to miss the break.

"He got a little rubber-legged late, but that might have been because of the freshener."

Skipaslew was also involved in a bumping incident near the eighth pole, which didn't help his chances.

Candi's Treasure tough on Saturday

Six 3-year-old fillies, including first-time starter Please Lord, meet in a six-furlong first-level allowance race in Saturday's Golden Gate Fields feature.

Candi's Treasure, who won her first two career starts last year and was a troubled second in her March 13 comeback, looks like the one to beat. But she will have to catch the speedy Madrone, who has been freshened since running second in a Feb. 12 race from which two rivals returned to win their next start.