02/13/2006 12:00AM

Brother Derek goes fast and easy


ARCADIA, Calif. - With Stevie Wonderboy having gone to the sidelines, there is now no question that Brother Derek, Stevie Wonderboy's conqueror in last month's San Rafael Stakes, has ascended to the top of the charts among the West Coast's 3-year-olds.

Like a metronome, Brother Derek keeps steadily clicking right along, preparing for his next scheduled start in the Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Catalina Stakes on March 4. On Sunday morning at Santa Anita, Brother Derek worked five furlongs by himself, with regular jockey Alex Solis aboard, in 59.40 seconds. It was the fastest drill of 37 at the distance, yet Brother Derek did it so effortlessly that he was given a "breezing" designation by the clockers, a rare award in California. Of the 124 horses who worked on the main track on Sunday at Santa Anita, only six were termed breezing.

"The work was great," said Dan Hendricks, who trains Brother Derek. "It was a little faster than I wanted, but he did it easy, so it was fine. He couldn't have looked any better. He went off the first eighth easily, and he finished his last eighth in 11 and change without Alex even asking him."

Hendricks said Brother Derek would come back and work six furlongs on Sunday, and then have one more drill prior to the Santa Catalina.

"After his work next week, he'll be pretty much set for the race," Hendricks said.

Western Hemisphere retired

Western Hemisphere, the winner of the Kalookan Queen Handicap last month, has been retired and will be sent to Kentucky to be bred to Unbridled's Song, Golden Eagle Farm announced on Friday.

Western Hemisphere, 5, won 4 of 13 starts and $417,575 for the Mabee family's Golden Eagle Farm. In her final start, Western Hemisphere finished second in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint here on Jan. 28.

Western Hemisphere missed most of 2005 because of injury, but had an excellent 3-year-old campaign in 2004, winning the Fleet Treat Stakes for California-bred fillies at Del Mar and finishing second in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap on turf at Hollywood Park.

Santa Anita Oaks next target for Sweet Belle

Sweet Belle earned a start in the Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 12 by virtue of her victory in a first-level allowance race going one mile on Thursday, according to Wally Dollase, who trains Sweet Belle and also owns part of her. The win was the second straight at the meet for Sweet Belle, who defeated maidens on Dec. 31 in her second lifetime start.

Dollase trained Sweet Belle's sire, Deputy Commander, and Deputy Commander's most-successful son, Ten Most Wanted.

"I think a lot of her," Dollase said. "She's got a very good mind and she's extremely athletic. I liked her race. She relaxed so nicely and kicked when she was asked. You've got to have a good mind to relax early in the race. If you do that, you can win going long.

"She's not an imposing filly. She's correct, but she's small. These Deputy Commanders, they can get the distance, but you've got to wait on them. They're not precocious."

Star Parade eyes Apple Blossom

Trainer Darrell Vienna said Star Parade, who won the Santa Maria Handicap on Saturday, may skip next month's Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita and head straight to the Apple Blossom Handicap in April at Oaklawn Park. Star Parade finished second in the Apple Blossom last year.

"She came out of the race great," Vienna said. "She ate up, her legs are ice cold, all the B.S. that trainers say, except that it's true for her. I'm not sure what I'm going to do for the Santa Margarita. It's probably most prudent to just go to the Apple Blossom."

Vienna said he would discuss the situation with owner Gary Tanaka, who is living in New York.

The day after Star Parade's victory, Vienna sent out the Argentine import Magnum to a runaway victory in a second-level allowance field going one mile.

"I'm surprised," Vienna said right after the race. "I thought he needed a little farther, and I thought he needed it wet. This race came up shorter than I wanted, which shows how dumb I am."

Headley will be patient with Arson Squad

Trainer Bruce Headley, who has trained several top sprinters, including Kona Gold, has another promising sprinter in Arson Squad, who overpowered maidens in a fast sprint on Saturday in his second lifetime start. But Headley said he is in no hurry to rush Arson Squad into stakes competition.

"Hopefully I'll find an allowance race," Headley said. "Climb the ladder slow, pile your dough.

"I thought he ran a good race. He was on the pace the whole way, and then he kicked in the stretch."

Horse for the course out to end drought

Areyoutalkintome, named for the line the character Travis Bickle repeatedly practices before a mirror in the movie "Taxi Driver," hasn't been quite so menacing lately. Although he has won $547,507 and has ranked as one of the elite California-bred sprinters for several seasons, he has not won a race since April, a losing streak that extended to 10 in last month's Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park.

Only once since that last victory, however, has Areyoutalkintome raced at his favorite track, Santa Anita. In November, he lost a heartbreaker there in the California Cup Sprint. That gave him a record of 5 victories and 3 second-place finishes in 9 starts at this track. He is 2 for 18 everywhere else.

Wednesday, Areyoutalkintome will try to end that losing streak in the day's second race, a $63,000 money allowance at six furlongs for older sprinters. He is returning just 18 days after finishing ninth of 13 in the Sunshine Millions Sprint after breaking from the rail under jockey John Velazquez.

"Once he started to drop back, John eased up on him and took care of him," said Doug O'Neill, who trains Areyoutalkintome. "That made it possible for him to run back quick. I'm just worried that he drew the rail again."

Daly, Huston spice up winner's circle

John Daly, one of the most popular golfers on the PGA Tour, and actress Anjelica Huston presented trophies in the winner's circle on Sunday following the Santa Maria Handicap and San Vicente Stakes, respectively. Huston has attended the races in Southern California on occasion. Daly was in town for the tournament stop at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades this week.

"John Daly, my hero," Patrick Valenzuela, aboard Seafree, exclaimed when he came into the winner's circle.

Daly, in a jocular post-race interview with Kurt Hoover on HRTV, said his home track is Oaklawn Park, where "I go with my buddies and drink a few beers."

* Judy Parsons, who worked with the clocking crew at Hollywood Park, died of cancer on Friday. She was 53. Parsons was a former trainer who assisted Ross Fenstermaker when he trained Precisionist to an Eclipse Award as champion sprinter in 1985.

* One Union, a 3-year-old who won a one-mile allowance race on Feb. 3, underwent surgery last Friday to have a bone chip removed from a knee. The procedure lasted less than one hour and was handled at Santa Anita by Dr. Rick Arthur, trainer Richard Mandella said. One Union's condition will be evaluated in coming days and he could return to training within 90 days, Mandella said. "We expect him to recuperate well and come back well," Mandella said.

* Major Success, who won last month's Palos Verdes Handicap at six furlongs, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Saturday morning at Hollywood Park for Bobby Frankel in preparation for this Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at seven furlongs. His rivals are expected to include Congrats, Imperialism, Jet West, and Surf Cat. Jet West worked six furlongs on Sunday at Santa Anita in 1:13.60 for trainer Ted H. West.

* Likely for the Grade 2, $150,000 Buena Vista Handicap on Monday at Santa Anita are turf females Elusive Diva, Flip Flop, Silver Cup, Three Degrees, Ticker Tape, and Toupie. Three Degrees worked seven furlongs on the turf at Santa Anita on Sunday in 1:27.40 for trainer Paddy Gallagher.

* Valenzuela leads the jockeys' race with 45 winners, nine more than Garrett Gomez. Bob Baffert is the leading trainer with 22 victories, three more than both Frankel and Jeff Mullins.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen