03/12/2008 11:00PM

Brother Derek works closer to return


ARCADIA, Calif. - There was Derby Fever on Thursday morning at Santa Anita.

Brother Derek, the winner of the 2006 Santa Anita Derby, and Colonel John, the likely favorite in this year's Santa Anita Derby, both worked within a few minutes of one another on a gorgeous, spring-like morning.

Brother Derek, nearing a return to the races after an absence of a year, worked seven furlongs, in company, in 1:23.40 for trainer Dan Hendricks.

Colonel John, in his first drill since his victory 12 days earlier in the Sham Stakes, went an easy half-mile in 49.20 seconds for trainer Eoin Harty.

Brother Derek's work indicates he is very close to a return to action. Hendricks said Brother Derek would race once before the meet ends on April 20.

Unless a classified allowance race goes for Brother Derek, his options are stakes, both sprints - either the $125,000 Sensational Star Handicap for California-breds on April 4, or the Grade 2, $200,000 Potrero Grande Handicap on April 5. Both of those races are at 6 1/2 furlongs, though the Sensational Star is scheduled for the hillside turf course, which would be new to Brother Derek.

"He's doing great. Healthy and happy," said Hendricks, who has been training Brother Derek without shoes, something the trainer does with many of his horses to toughen their feet. "He's still barefoot. We're about to put the shoes on him.

"He's coming around. We're in no hurry. We've got all year. I thought I'd get two starts into him at Santa Anita, but we had some little delays. We got backed up with the track and the weather, so it looks like he'll race just once."

Colonel John effortlessly completed his drill with exercise rider Karine Lhyllier.

"Every work going into the Santa Anita Derby isn't going to be like that, but for now, that's all he needs," Harty said.

The Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby will be run for the 71st time on April 5. In addition to Colonel John, others pointing for that race include Sham runner-up El Gato Malo, as well as horses running here Saturday in the Gradeo2, $200,000 San Felipe Stakes.

Shediak makes U.S. debut

One of the runners hoping to exit the San Felipe and move on to the Santa Anita Derby is Shediak, who would be a heavy favorite in the San Felipe - if it were on grass.

Shediak was an accomplished turf horse last year in France, where he won once in three starts and finished in the money in his other two races, including a third-place finish in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp on Oct. 7.

After that race, Shediak was purchased privately by bloodstock agent Eugenio Colombo on behalf of Paul Boghossian, who races as Triple B Farms. Shediak at first went to the barn of trainer Richard Mandella, but then was rerouted to Doug O'Neill.

The San Felipe marks Shediak's first race on anything other then grass, and it will be his first start since leaving France. He had been working at Hollywood Park, where O'Neill has his main string, but this week came to Santa Anita to get a feel for the track's synthetic surface.

"He's got the brains of a 5-year-old," Leandro Mora, the assistant who oversees O'Neill's Santa Anita string of runners, said Thursday morning. "Intelligence is so important. Stevie Wonderboy had it. So many of them throw their races away, get shaky."

Shediak, bred by the Aga Khan, has a grass pedigree, being by Selkirk out of a Fairy King mare. His second dam, Shemaka, was a French Oaks winner.

"The biggest thing is - will he take to the track?" O'Neill said. "He will if the way he trained is any indication. He's big, long-bodied. He looks more like a 4-year-old than an early 3-year-old. He's a mature-looking dude.

"Since they've redone the track, it seems kind to all styles. We'll try this out to see if we've got a Derby horse."

Hendricks aiming for late double

Indian Sun will be making his fourth start of the meet in the San Felipe, and he will be the first half of a bid to sweep the late daily double on Saturday for his trainer, Hendricks, who sends out the promising first-time starter Credibility in the final race.

Indian Sun is returning to a synthetic surface after narrowly defeating a first-level allowance field on the turf on Feb. 23. In all of his recent races, including that win and a fourth-place finish in the Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 2, Hendricks believed Indian Sun was not putting forth a full effort.

"I still believe he's only been running about 80 percent," Hendricks said. "I think he has a chance if the track plays to his style. He's coming up to the race real good. And we've changed some tactics with him."

Indian Sun has been a bit closer to the pace in his last two races than he was in some of his earlier starts. He wore blinkers for the first time in his last start.

Credibility, 3, is by Tribal Rule, the same sire as Georgie Boy, one of the top contenders in the San Felipe. Credibility has turned in a steady series of works for his debut, including a three-furlong blowout from the gate in 36 seconds on Wednesday.

"All his works have been pretty good," Hendricks said. "He looks the part, acts the part."

Ginobili a spur in Credibility's side

Ginobili, who lines up right outside of Credibility in the 10th race, is also making his debut. He is named for Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs, which might cause his trainer, Barry Abrams, some angst, being as Abrams is a diehard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.

On Thursday morning, Abrams was wearing a Lakers shirt, and a Lakers jacket.

"I have Lakers underwear," he said, hopefully in jest.

"I think he's a great player," Abrams said of the human Ginobili. "I didn't name him. He was named by Roger Stein, who bred him. I bought the horse from Roger."

Ginobili, a gelding by In Excess, is now owned by Abrams's brother, David.

"He's training well," Abrams said. "In the morning he seems like a very good horse."

Abrams attends every Lakers home game. He said he has yet to have his seats upgraded to be courtside with Jack Nicholson.

"I've sat behind the Lakers bench," Abrams said. "That's the closest I got to the floor."

* On the Acorn worked seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on Thursday in 1:28.20 for trainer Mike Mitchell in preparation for the Grade 2, $200,000 San Luis Rey Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on turf on March 22.

* Entering racing this week, O'Neill and Mitchell are tied for the lead among trainers with 20 wins, one more than John Sadler. Rafael Bejarano is atop the jockey standings with 58 wins, eight more than Garrett Gomez.