08/08/2006 12:00AM

Derby starters may emerge


DEL MAR, Calif. - The careers of Film Fortune and Unrivaled Song have developed in strikingly different ways.

has one victory in 11 starts and has run in four stakes. Unrivaled Song won his only start last month at Hollywood Park.

Their career paths cross for the first time on Thursday in an optional claimer at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar. Both need a win to be considered for the $400,000 Del Mar Derby over the same course and distance on Sept. 3.

Thursday's optional claimer for 3-year-olds drew a tough field of 10. Unrivaled Song drew the rail and is facing winners for the first time.

Trained by Neil Drysdale for Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler, overcame a slow start and wide trip to beat maidens by 1 1/4 lengths at Hollywood Park on July 1.

"He was a little green, but he ran well," Drysdale said. "I was pleased with him."

Thoughts of a start in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby are premature, depending on Thursday's result, Drysdale said. "We'd have to see how he runs," he said.

Film Fortune is nominated for Saturday's $150,000 La Jolla Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on turf for 3-year-olds, but is more likely to start in the optional claimer, trainer Jack Van Berg said.

"We can win the condition and give him a little confidence," Van Berg said.

Owned by Tom and Elizabeth Baxter, Film Fortune finished fifth in the second division of the Oceanside Stakes here on July 19. It was his third consecutive loss, following a win against maidens at Hollywood Park on May 6. Earlier this year, Film Fortune finished fifth in the Grade 3 Rebel Stakes, seventh in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby, and third in the Grade 3 Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap.

In the Oceanside, Film Fortune finished two lengths behind Obrigado, rallying wide in the final quarter-mile.

"He ran a big race," in the Oceanside, Van Berg said. "He's a good horse, but we've had some bad rides."

The race drew several other contenders, including .

Hit It Skip won twice at Hollywood Park in June but was sixth behind Film Fortune in the Oceanside.

Rateau beat maidens in a turf sprint at Hollywood Park on July 9 in his fifth start. Thursday's race is the longest of his career.

Tri Set Slew was fourth in the first division of the Oceanside, his turf stakes debut.