04/10/2007 11:00PM

Arkansas Derby draw offers lesson for Curlin


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Curlin will break from post 2 in a field of 10 on Saturday at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby, which drew a surprise entrant in first-time starter Olympic Chief. The draw for the 1 1/8-mile race was held Wednesday.

Curlin will start as the favorite following his 5 1/4-length win in the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel here March 17. The 1 1/16-mile race was his second start, and he had a stalking trip outside of horses when he broke from post 8. In his only other start, Curlin broke from post 2 and led throughout to win a seven-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream Park.

Breaking from the inside in a big field Saturday should give the lightly raced Curlin an education, said his trainer, Steve Asmussen.

"It's time for him to go through this," he said.

Robby Albarado has the mount on Curlin.

Olympic Chief has been working at a training center in Lexington, Ky., and was to van here Wednesday. Janet Davidson trains the horse for her husband, Frederick Davidson.

"My husband has a dream, and we'll see if we can get that dream," she said. "As he said, you have your hands on a good 3-year-old, they're only 3 once. I guess this is a slim window, if you would call it that, a pipe dream to try to get to the [Kentucky] Derby."

Gen Kato has the mount on Olympic Chief.

Deadly Dealer, who is the speed of the Arkansas Derby, will break from post 10 under John Velazquez.

The complete field from the rail is Delightful Kiss, Russell Baze; Curlin; Officer Rocket, Luis Quinonez; Going Ballistic, Cliff Berry; Flying First Class, Terry Thompson; Storm In May, Juan Leyva; Olympic Chief; Slew By Slew, Don Pettinger; For You Reppo, Kent Desormeaux; and Deadly Dealer.

The Arkansas Derby will be part of a national pick four that includes the Blue Grass from Keeneland. The Arkansas Derby will go as race 11 on a 12-race card. There is a special first post of noon. Forecasters are calling for some showers and a high of 53 degrees Saturday.