03/24/2008 11:00PM

Colonel John exudes confidence


ARCADIA, Calif. - It was only a simple workout Tuesday morning at Santa Anita, and nothing more. But good horses send positive vibes, and Colonel John is making people believe.

The likely favorite for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 5, Colonel John sailed six furlongs Tuesday under exercise rider Karine Lhuillier. The colt's classy demeanor before and after the workout were as revealing as the work itself.

Colonel John, trained by Eoin Harty, has a confident presence. Cantering through the stretch before the 8:30 a.m. workout, Colonel John acted as if he were the only horse on the track.

"He is pure class," assistant trainer Oliver Costello said.

And he is all business.

Lhuillier broke off Colonel John at the six-furlong marker, and he gradually picked up steam after a slow first quarter in 25 seconds. Colonel John increased his tempo on the turn, and finished strongly. Costello timed the workout in 1:12.40; Colonel John galloped out seven furlongs 1:25.20 and a mile in 1:39. Clockers recorded the work in 1:13.60.

"That is how a good horse works," Costello said. "People will be surprised when they see him in the Santa Anita Derby. He still has so much improvement in him."

Walking off the track afterward, a calm Colonel John acted like he had done nothing. Colonel John is smart and level-headed, and the question facing him in the Santa Anita Derby is simply - is he good enough? Colonel John raced four times last year. He won two and ran his best race finishing second in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity.

His March 1 comeback following a layoff of more than two months in the Grade 3 Sham was a half-length win with a low Beyer Speed Figure of 86.

Costello sees nothing but upside. "Going into the Sham, he was good, but not as good as he was going into the Futurity," he said. "By the time we get to the [Kentucky] Derby, he'll be 100 percent."

A sparse crowd was on hand Tuesday at Santa Anita on Tuesday, but Kathy Harty, wife of trainer Eoin Harty, recorded the workout on video and uploaded it to YouTube.com, where anyone can watch (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh4MtgErnJg).

Bob Black Jack going to Arkansas

After brief consideration at keeping front-runner Bob Black Jack home for the Santa Anita Derby, trainer Jim Kasparoff has committed him to the Arkansas Derby April 12 at Oaklawn Park. Bob Black Jack finished third in the Grade 2 San Felipe on March 15, his first start around two turns over a surface that usually compromises front-runners.

"My owners just don't think we can win on this track," Kasparoff said. "One day, it looks like you might have a shot, then the next day . . . this track does not carry speed."

Kasparoff said Bob Black Jack was tentatively scheduled to ship April 7 to Oaklawn, giving him five days to familiarize himself with the surface.

Brother Derek returns Friday

Brother Derek is back. The winner of the 2006 Santa Anita Derby, Brother Derek makes his first start in 13 months Friday at Santa Anita. He will break from the rail going a mile on the main track in a classified allowance that goes as race 7. Trainer Dan Hendricks and jockey Alex Solis both expect the now 5-year-old Brother Derek to return better than ever.

"He's doing great, he drew well, and this is the race we wanted," Hendricks said "Alex thinks he's bigger and stronger this year."

Brother Derek has not raced since finishing third in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes on Feb. 3 of last year. He underwent minor arthroscopic ankle surgery to clean up bone fragments, and his comeback was delayed after an adverse reaction to a shot.

Owned by Cecil Peacock, Brother Derek has won 6 of 16 races and $1.5 million. Brother Derek's rivals Friday include stakes winner Capitano, comebacker Trotamondo and lightly raced Mast Track.

Pick six winner also collects Corvette

A $216 investment in the pick six on Monday at Santa Anita produced a jackpot for local horseplayer James Micheil. He held the only winning pick six ticket, worth $131,295, and also won a new Chevrolet Corvette. Santa Anita, in conjunction with the Sierra Auto Group of Monrovia, has offered a new Corvette to any single winning pick six ticket purchased ontrack throughout its winter-spring meeting, which began Dec. 26.

Micheil, 43, was the first single-ticket winner at the meet. The owner of a pool cleaning and maintenance business, Micheil said he has been a horseplayer since he was 16.

"I take this game seriously," he told the Santa Anita publicity department. "I play here every weekend and I view myself as a professional."

The C6 Corvette retails at Sierra Auto for $58,185.

Costume will skip Santa Barbara

Costume won the Grade 2 Santa Ana Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on Sunday, but after two graded stakes wins this meet, Costume will skip the Santa Barbara Handicap, final leg of the Santa Anita filly and mare turf series, trainer Bobby Frankel said.

He said Double Trouble, winner of the Grade 1 Santa Maria on Feb. 9 and third in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita, will run April 19 in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara at 1o1/4 miles. Costume is likely to be freshened and wait for a shorter race at Hollywood Park.

Tuesday at Hollywood, Country Star and Ginger Punch worked six furlongs in company, and were timed in 1:11. Country Star will make her first start of the year April 5 in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland; Ginger Punch runs the same day in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park.

Minor track maintenance at Hollywood

Hollywood Park will refurbish its Cushion Track on April 2 by adding fibers and wax to the synthetic surface. According to a Hollywood press release, there will be no interruption in training. The track underwent a similar procedure following the 2007 spring-summer meet. Hollywood's 60-day spring-summer meet begins April 23. It will be the fourth Hollywood meeting conducted on Cushion Track.