04/21/2008 11:00PM

Brother Derek doing A-OK after comebacker

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A slow start and a wide trip contributed to the runner-up comeback by odds-on Brother Derek on Sunday at Santa Anita. He finished second in an allowance race that was his first start in more than 14 months. Still, trainer Dan Hendricks considers it a mission accomplished.

"We're back racing, and that's what he wanted to do," Hendricks said, relieved that the 5-year-old finally is back in action.

Winner of the Santa Anita Derby in 2006, Brother Derek would be racing again at Hollywood Park this weekend in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on Saturday or the $150,000 Tiznow for Cal-breds on Sunday, but he was scratched from his comeback three weeks ago because of a quarter crack. Now, the next start for Brother Derek might be the Grade 2 Californian on May 31.

"That's something to think about with his speed," Hendricks said. "Hollywood Park plays a little better to his style."

Brother Derek has won six races and more than $1.6 million for owner Cecil Peacock. His last win was 10 starts back in the Santa Anita Derby.

Surf Cat highweight in Mervyn LeRoy

The absence of Brother Derek and Heatseeker means that Surf Cat will start as the 120-pound highweight Saturday in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Runner-up to Greg's Gold three weeks ago in the Grade 2 Potrero Grande at 6 1/2 furlongs, Surf Cat will be racing two turns on the main track for the first time since winning the Mervyn LeRoy in 2006.

His rivals are expected to include Fly Dorcego (115), Monzante (115), Mr Napper Tandy (113), and Neko Bay (113). Surf Cat worked five furlongs in 1:01 on Tuesday at Santa Anita, and is expected to be ridden Saturday by Alex Solis.

Lobo high on Mr. Universo

Arkansas Derby winner Gayego is not the only derby colt currently trained by Paulo Lobo. Mr. Universo, winner of the Group 1 Brazilian Derby winner last fall, is up to a half-mile in workouts at Hollywood Park, and Lobo expects the 4-year-old import to make his U.S. debut later this meet. "He's a very nice horse," Lobo said, raising his eyebrows like a man who meant what he said.

Mr. Universo won 3 of 9 starts in Brazil, including the 2007 Brazilian Derby, run over 1 1/2 miles on grass. He arrived in the U.S. in November, and like most South Americans, needed time to acclimate to opposite seasons.

"It takes five or six months," Lobo said. "It is summer here, winter there."

Lobo also is preparing a top-class Brazilian filly for her first start in North America. Eletro Nuclear finished first or second in all nine of her starts in Brazil, including a runner-up finish in a Group 1 sprint last fall. Eletro Nuclear will make her U.S. debut later this meet.

Meanwhile, the Lobo-trained Immortelle is sick and temporarily out of action. Runner-up in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap, Immortelle came down with a fever that forced her to scratch from the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap on Saturday.

Greg's Gold to skip Tiznow

Greg's Gold, the millionaire sprinter who won the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes last year at Hollywood Park, will skip the Tiznow this Sunday and wait for the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap on July 5.

"We're going to give him a little time, and try to make the Breeders' Cup," trainer David Hofmans said. Greg's Gold passed the million-dollar earnings mark April 5 when he won the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Handicap at Santa Anita, and Hofmans credits synthetic surfaces for keeping the 7-year-old healthy.

"He loves these synthetic tracks; he's like a greyhound," Hofmans said, contrasting Greg's Gold to other horses that are less effective on synthetic. "Heavier horses get into [the surface] a little bit."

Greg's Gold, owned and bred by William Boswell, has won 9 of 25 overall.

The Hofmans-trained Desert Code, winner of the inaugural Joe Hernandez Stakes on March 22, will stretch out from 6 1/2 furlongs on turf to 1 1/16 miles on the turf when he runs May 3 in the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap.

Knee surgery for Bushwacker

The speedball Bushwacker, one of the quickest sprinters in California and a graded stakes winner at Hollywood, apparently had an excuse for finishing 13th in the $2 million Golden Shaheen on March 29 in Dubai. According to owner-trainer Bill Currin, Bushwacker was scheduled to undergo minor arthroscopic surgery this week to "clean up" his right knee, which compromised him in Dubai.

"He'll be back in his stall Wednesday morning, and ready to run by the end of the meet," Currin said.

Bushwacker has won five races and $285,840 from 25 starts, including the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood on Dec. 2 at Hollywood.

Currin has 20 horses at Hollywood, including a 2-year-old filly he said is "definitely stakes-caliber."

If she is anything like her half-brother Stormello, look out. Malibuwed, a daughter of Malibu Moon, is up to a half-mile in her works, and Currin is pointing her to the meet's first juvenile filly race at 5 1/2 furlongs. "She is a gorgeous thing," Currin said.

Malibuwed already has a bullet work on her sheet - a half-mile April 14 in 46.80 seconds.

Free contest starts Sunday

The popular Hollywood online contest Show Me the Money begins Sunday with a winner-take-all prize of $5,000. Contestants pick one horse each day to finish first, second, or third. If successful, contestants remain in the contest. If the horse runs out or if no selection is made, players are eliminated.

Terry Jacobs of Marina del Rey outlasted 2,274 others to win the $5,000 prize during the 2007 spring-summer meet. Jacobs won on the 53rd day of the 63-day meeting. The free contest is available on the Hollywood Park web site at www.hollywoodpark.com.

* Jockey Mike Smith's itinerary will be even more hectic this weekend. Smith won two stakes April 5 at Oaklawn Park on Zenyatta and Tiago, rode at Santa Anita for a week, went back to Oaklawn and won the Arkansas Derby on Gayego, came home, then rode two stakes April 19 at Hawthorne before returning home again. On Saturday, Smith will be aboard Gayego for a workout at Churchill Downs, then board a plane and return home to ride Neko Bay the same afternoon in the LeRoy Handicap.