01/19/2005 1:00AM

Drop should boost Derrianne


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A return to allowance company and a little break in the post position draw should be enough to put back in the winner's circle in Friday's $39,000 optional claiming feature over the Gulfstream Park turf course.

A 5-year-old, Derrianne had an auspicious start in the U.S., winning two of her first three starts in the country, including a Grade 3 stakes. She was blanked in her last three tries, however, all against stakes opposition and each time after breaking from post positions near the outside of the pack.

Derrianne drew post 3 in a full field of 12 fillies and mares Friday. She showed signs of rounding back to her best form in her 2004 finale, placing third in Calder's Soft Parade Stakes when finishing full of run down the middle of the strip after being rank during the early stages of the race.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Derrianne will be ridden by Kieren Fallon, who has already won three races over the local turf course.

Derrianne's chief competition may come from Old Fashion Girl or Banyu Dewi. Old Fashion Girl had her three-race win streak snapped when she finished sixth in the London Lil Stakes at Calder Dec. 30. The race was Old Fashion Girl's first in nearly 10 weeks and marked her first loss since trainer H. Graham Motion switched her to the turf at the end of the Saratoga meeting.

Banyu Dewi, like Derrianne, began her career in Europe, where she was Group 3 stakes-placed as a 2-year-old. But after finishing fourth behind Ballingarry in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint Cloud to close her juvenile campaign, Banyu Dewi was sidelined for 20 months before being transferred to trainer Michael Matz and coming to the U.S. during the summer of 2003. A German-bred mare, Banyu Dewi captured one of four starts that season and finished third in the Grade 2 Long Island Handicap before again being sent to the sidelines for an extended vacation, this time for 14 months.

Banyu Dewi returns Friday and shows a steady series of works, including several bullet drills over both the Palm Beach Downs main and turf courses. She will be ridden by Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey.

Other key contenders in the field include the multiple-stakes-placed Coquinerie, Sniffles, and Gold Vault, who has won three of her last five starts but has yet to start on grass.