11/02/2006 12:00AM

Derby draws some heavy hitters


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Here is an indication of the strength of the field for Sunday's Grade 3, $100,000 Bay Meadows Derby: Corey Nakatani and Patrick Valenzuela will fly here from Saturday's Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs to ride in the 1 1/8-mile turf race instead of returning directly to Southern California.

Valenzuela will ride the Bobby Frankel-trained German import Proudinsky. Nakatani will be aboard the Neil Drysdale-trained Illuminise, an Irish-bred filly meeting colts after scoring her first U.S. stakes win in the Harold C. Ramser in her last start.

Two northern California entrants loom the ones to catch. Bold Chieftain, who followed a victory in his turf debut with a win in the Hays Valley, and Bedlam Bertie, who has never been worse than second in five turf starts, won't simply be field fillers.

"It's our best spot right now," Bold Chieftain's trainer, Bill Morey Jr., said. "I just hope he's good enough. I know some of those others, like Frankel's horse, are supposed to be pretty good."

Bold Chieftain went wire to wire in his turf debut when he beat Bedlam Bertie by four lengths. He rated early in the Hays Valley, then moved up down the backstretch and dueled for the lead before pulling away in the lane.

"He doesn't have to be on the lead, but if someone tries to get an easy lead, he'll be right on him," Morey said.

Trainer Bill Delia says Bedlam Bertie will stalk Bold Chieftain again.

"I think he's a tremendous grass horse, and he's on the improve," Delia said. "His last race was really good. That's what I'm banking on."

Both are based at Golden Gate Fields, but Morey has had Bold Chieftain at Bay Meadows all week.

"I want to make him comfortable," Morey said. "I want to get him in the paddock. He'll be there every morning and probably once in the afternoon."

Delia brought Bedlam Bertie to Bay Meadows to work over the course where he scored a victory during the Bay Meadows Fair.

* Show Me Your Money, an impressive debut winner, will make his second start in a six-furlong first-level allowance race Saturday at Bay Meadows. The 3-year-old colt, meeting older again, set a brisk pace and pulled away late in winning his debut.

Also Saturday, a wide-open 11-horse field will compete at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.