03/17/2007 12:00AM

Derby Rider faces familiar challengers


PORTLAND, Ore. – Derby Rider will race for the first time since winning the Portland Meadows Mile when he takes on six rivals in Monday’s feature, a $7,800 invitational handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

Derby Rider, an 8-year-old son of Ride the Rails who races for Homer Thoroughbreds, came from far off the pace to defeat Lethal Grande by 1 1/2 lengths in the Feb. 25 running of the Portland Meadows Mile. It was the seventh win from 31 starts for Derby Rider, who has earned $151,210 while racing mostly in California. Derby Rider, who carried 122 pounds in the Mile as the 4-1 third choice in a field of nine, will pick up a pound on Monday, when he will again be ridden by Javier Ortega.

Three who finished behind Derby Rider in the Mile will be back for another crack at him. Brave Hearted finished third in the Mile, Tom Two ran fourth, and Raggidy Rowe finished fifth.

Tom Two, who was the Mile favorite at 3-1, would appear to have a good chance to turn the tables on Derby Rider. Tom Two, a winner of seven of 12 starts at Portland Meadows, was pushed through fast fractions by fellow front-runner Lethal Grande before tiring to be beaten nine lengths in the Mile. With Lethal Grande now on vacation, Tom Two might hang on much better after dictating the early pace. Trainer Delmer Webb has named Clark Jones to ride at 119 pounds, a pound less than he carried in the Mile.

Brave Hearted, a rapidly improving 4-year-old from the barn of trainer Eulia Bischoff, also looks dangerous off his big effort at 25-1 in the Mile.