04/03/2003 1:00AM

Derby Duke may be cured


CALGARY, Alberta - Derby Duke is a hard-luck kind of horse who has developed a case of "seconditis." A 6-year-old gelding by Salt Lake, Derby Duke has started 29 times. He has three victories and has 13 second-place finishes, and is just a few noses and necks shy of tripling his win total.

Derby Duke is stakes placed and has kept good company, and may find a cure for his malady in Saturday's featured eighth race for $28,000 claimers at Stampede Park. The four-furlong race has a purse of $18,300.

The snow that began falling here Tuesday afternoon is not expected to abate. Derby Duke moves "way up in the off going," according to his trainer, Stuart Simon. His best efforts during a winless 2002 campaign came over wet surfaces, and several of his foes on Saturday appear to favor fast tracks.

Derby Duke, to be ridden by regular rider Richard Hamel, drew post 8, a not-unfavorable position in half-milers out of the chute.

Wondrous Zeal, to be ridden by Dave Wilson, drew post 7 and brings some serious early speed to the nine-horse field. Last October, Wondrous Zeal invaded Sun Ray Park in New Mexico and set a course record of 50 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs after blazing a quarter in 21.20 and getting the half in 44. He is owned and trained by Bill Smith.

Cash on the Run captured the 2000 President's here by nailing Derby Duke on the wire, but has shown no liking for off going.

Robnroy, also a stakes winner, drew post 3. His recent wet-track form gives cause for concern. He will be saddled by first-year trainer Rob Chabot.

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