11/23/2007 12:00AM

Bejarano wastes no time at Hollywood

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Rafael Bejarano has gotten the hang of making favorable first impressions in California.

On Santa Anita Derby Day in April 2006, Bejarano won six races, one short of the track record held by Laffit Pincay Jr., and finished second in the Santa Anita Derby aboard Point Determined.

Earlier this week, Bejarano moved to California to ride permanently, and won with three of his first 11 mounts in his first two days on the job. The sharp start left Bejarano tied for 12th in the Hollywood jockey standings, even though he had ridden only two of the first 12 days.

Bejarano is almost certain to crack the top 10 before the meeting ends on Dec. 22, and may have a chance to break the top five. A former leading rider in Kentucky, Bejarano will be in pursuit of current leader Tyler Baze and the hot veteran Garrett Gomez.

Thursday, in his second day at the meeting, Bejarano had two wins - Caressive ($15) for trainer Eoin Harty in a maiden race and Whata Ya Mean ($11.80) in an allowance race for trainer Todd Pletcher.

"I hope it will keep going," said Bejarano, 25. "I've had a good opportunity and I'm happy to come to this meeting."

Bejarano has changed in other ways since his six-win day at Santa Anita 18 months ago. On that day, he spoke Spanish, talking with a reporter through a translator in the jockeys' room. On Thursday, he spoke English.

Bejarano has five mounts at Hollywood Park on Sunday, including Precious Kitten in the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes. Precious Kitten is trained by Bobby Frankel, who wanted Bejarano to move to California.

Owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Precious Kitten has been one of Bejarano's top mounts this year. He has ridden her to victories in two stakes, including the Grade 1 John Mabee Handicap at Del Mar in August.

In October, Bejarano rode Precious Kitten to a second-place finish in the Grade 2 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland and an eighth in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Monmouth Park. In the Breeders' Cup, Precious Kitten was carried wide by Simply Perfect on a turn, and essentially eliminated.

"She had a lot of trouble when that horse carried me out," Bejarano said.

Precious Kitten's form earlier this year and her ability at the Matriarch distance of one mile has Bejarano enthused about her chances on Sunday.

"She has a good chance," he said. "I think a mile is definitely good for her."

Espinoza 1 for 52 at meet

While Bejarano had a successful start to riding in California, Victor Espinoza has had a poor start to the fall meeting.

Through Thursday, Espinoza, 35, had one victory from 52 mounts, an uncharacteristically cold start for a rider often among the circuit's leaders. Espinoza is tied for 20th in the standings.

"That's life," Espinoza said earlier this week. "I have to keep going and try the same things. I'm just being patient. You can't be on top all the time."

Last fall, Espinoza rode 31 winners at this meeting, second only to Gomez, who finished with 35 wins.

Espinoza will not be lacking in opportunities on Sunday's 10-race program. He has six mounts, including Worldly in the $500,000 Hollywood Derby. Earlier this year, Espinoza rode Worldly to wins in the Will Rogers Stakes and Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Citronnade targets San Gorgonio

Citronnade, a four-time stakes winner this year, will be pointed for the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 6, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

A winner of 8 of 13 starts and $774,205, Citronnade was considered for Sunday's Matriarch Stakes earlier this month, but was not entered.

Owned by breeder Frank Stronach, Citronnade won the Grade 2 San Gorgonio last January, the first of four consecutive stakes wins. How much she runs in 2008 will be determined after the San Gorgonio, Frankel said.

Frankel said that Citronnade, 4, was held out of the Matriarch because the one-mile distance was shorter than her best trip. In her last start, Citronnade was second as the favorite in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Sept. 29.

Brother Derek near comeback

Brother Derek, the winner of the 2006 Santa Anita Derby and four other stakes, continues to impress trainer Dan Hendricks with his comeback from injury and is on course to start during the Santa Anita meeting in early 2008.

Brother Derek has not started since finishing third in the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita last winter. Shortly after that race, while working toward a scheduled start in the Santa Anita Handicap in March, the 4-year-old colt was sidelined with a bone chip in an ankle. The injury required surgery. Brother Derek returned to Hendricks's barn at Santa Anita in October.

"He's had about a month of training," Hendricks said Friday. "I couldn't be happier with the way he's going. He's floating over the track."

Owned by Cecil Peacock, Brother Derek has won 6 of 16 starts and $1,593,458. He is approaching the first workout of his comeback, which has led Hendricks to form a preliminary plan for 2008.

"I just thought we'd get a couple of races in him at Santa Anita in January, February, or March, get a couple of races in him at Hollywood Park, and then decide what to do with the Breeders' Cup," he said. "But that's so far off. We're just training along and getting him as good as we can for his first couple of races."

Single winner hits pick six for $316K

The Hollywood Park pick six returned $316,213 to one ticketholder on Thursday, a program that began with a carryover of $86,939. The winning ticket was bought through a betting hub in Lewiston, Maine, according to Hollywood park officials.

None of the winners of Thursday's pick six tickets was favored. Massive Drama, the winner off the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes, the seventh race, was sent off at 2.30-1, a slightly higher price than runner-up Into Mischief at 2.20-1.