02/23/2005 1:00AM

Borderland Derby attracts invaders


Sunday's $100,000-added Borderland Derby, the final local prep for the $500,000 WinStar Derby, to be held April 2, is not only luring the top local 3-year-olds but also some new shooters from out of town. The last two winners of the WinStar, Hi Teck Man and Excessivepleasure, used the Borderland as a springboard to victory.

Three contenders from California were expected to arrive by plane in midweek. Dover Dere, winner of Golden Gate's Gold Rush and third in the Golden Gate Derby, is one of two runners from the Doug O'Neill barn. A son of champion sprinter Cherokee Run, Dover Dere has earned more than $103,000. O'Neill, the leading trainer at the Santa Anita meet, is also shipping Thor's Echo, an impressive maiden winner at Santa Anita. O'Neill saddled Excessivepleasure when he won the 2003 WinStar.

Trainer Mike Puhich is sending Southern Africa. The 3-year-old son of Florida Derby winner Cape Town has faced some of the best of his generation. He was fourth behind juvenile champion Declan's Moon and Breeders' Cup Juvenile hero Wilko in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity in December. Last summer he was campaigned in England.

The local contingent is led by Cajun Pepper, the unbeaten Riley Allison Futurity winner. He is virtually untested in five career starts. The Colorado-bred speedball has earned $112,242. Also, trainer Steve Asmussen has nominated Oaklawn Park allowance winner El Batallon.

A $500,000 bonus will go to the owner of a horse who can sweep the Borderland Derby, WinStar Derby, and Kentucky Derby.