03/28/2008 12:00AM

Brother Derek makes his return

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Two years ago, Brother Derek was the toast of California racing, a 3-year-old in the midst of a four-race, all-stakes winning streak. Friday, Brother Derek will be out to prove he can regain that form when he starts after a layoff of nearly 14 months in a $68,000 allowance race at Santa Anita.

Trainer Dan Hendricks thinks Brother Derek, 5, is capable of regaining his old form this year, after missing most of 2007 because of a bone chip in an ankle. Brother Derek has not started since finishing third in the Strub Stakes in February 2007, his eighth consecutive loss.

Friday's race may be a comeback, but Hendricks expects a big performance from Brother Derek in advance of the major stakes of the upcoming Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

"He'll be fresh and come out of there on the muscle," he said.

Owned by Cecil Peacock, Brother Derek has won 6 of 16 starts and $1,593,458. In the winter of 2005-06, Brother Derek's four-race winning streak included the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. He was later fourth behind Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby, the first loss of the current streak.

In the last month, Hendricks said, Brother Derek has thrived in training.

"He's kind of muscled up and come around in his more serious works," Hendricks said. "He's had enough work and he should be fit enough, but he's never been a horse that runs his best race first time out."

Brother Derek had two brief layoffs in 2006. He finished a dull fourth in the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar in September 2006 after a layoff of more than three months and seventh in the Malibu Stakes in December 2006 after a seven-week break.

"It's been a long time" since his last race, Hendricks said.

In Friday's race, which has drawn a field of 10, Brother Derek has drawn the rail and is likely to take the early lead under jockey Alex Solis. The long-term goals are the major stakes at Hollywood Park and Del Mar as well as the Breeders' Cup this fall at Santa Anita.

"I want to ease him back into racing," Hendricks said. "The Breeders' Cup is at home this year."

Brother Derek has only one rival who won his last start - Mast Trick, the winner of an optional claimer on the hillside turf course on Feb. 9. Augment, second in the Del Mar Derby last September, will attempt to end a five-race losing streak.