09/03/2006 11:00PM

Hendricks: Derek wasn't quite fit

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DEL MAR, Calif. - If there's any blame to go around for Brother Derek's fourth-place finish in the El Cajon Handicap on Saturday at Del Mar, trainer Dan Hendricks says it should land on him.

"He acts fine," Hendricks said at his barn Monday morning. "He's sound. He's doing better than the rest of us. He had breezed so easily coming into the race that he had me deceived that he was fit and ready to go. Looking back on his works, they couldn't have been better. Maybe he needed more. He has an aggressive style of running. He needs to be dead fit."

Brother Derek was making his first start since the May 20 Preakness Stakes.

Hendricks said Brother Derek would return to the track later this week at Del Mar before his stable ships back to Santa Anita. Going into the El Cajon, Hendricks said his ideal plan was to come back in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap against older horses at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 7 before the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4. On Monday, Hendricks described the Goodwood as "one of our options."

Big weekend for Sadler

Brother Derek's conqueror was Cindago, who returned from an eight-month layoff to win the El Cajon in only his third start. On Sunday, Sadler captured the Del Mar Derby with Get Funky. And Sadler had one of the leading contenders, Jump on In, in Monday's Del Mar Debutante.

Sadler on Monday said that Cindago had several options, the most likely being the $500,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on Oct. 7.

"It's good spacing for that," Sadler said. "If I stay in town, I'd probably have to run in the Goodwood. The Jerome was on the radar, but did you see Discreet Cat run? I think the Indiana Derby is the right spot. I want to give him one more shot against 3-year-olds."

Get Funky likely will make his next start in the Oak Tree Derby on Oct. 14 at Santa Anita, Sadler said.

Mixed outcome for Baffert pair

Bob and John was a close second to Cindago in the El Cajon, but Point Determined was last of 10 in the Del Mar Derby in his turf debut, as trainer Bob Baffert got some of his better 3-year-olds back to the races after brief vacations.

Baffert said he "didn't have anything mapped out" for Bob and John.

"I thought he ran well," Baffert said. "He got a bad trip down on the inside. The pace was slow, and Bob and John was trapped the whole way."

Point Determined will return to the main track for the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 23.

"He looked good on the dirt coming back after the race," Baffert said, joking. "The turf was too hard for him. We wanted to see if he'd like it. The Super Derby has always been in the cards for him."

Slight injury to Stevie Wonderboy

Stevie Wonderboy, the champion 2-year-old male of 2005, has been taken out of training because of a quarter crack, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

The minor injury, to a hind foot, was diagnosed last week, O'Neill said, and has prevented Stevie Wonderboy from having his second workout since returning earlier this year from a cannon bone injury.

Owned by Merv Griffin, Stevie Wonderboy is not expected to be out of training for long, O'Neill said.

The winner of the 2005 Del Mar Futurity and Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Stevie Wonderboy has worked once since returning to training, going three furlongs in 38 seconds at Santa Anita on Aug. 21.

Stevie Wonderboy has won 3 of 6 starts and $1,058,940. He has not started since January.

Lava Man will shun synthetic surface

Lava Man, the leading older horse in California, will be trained at Santa Anita when O'Neill's stable leaves Del Mar this week, and not at Hollywood Park, where the gelding has been based for most of the last two years.

O'Neill said Sunday that he wants to train Lava Man on a conventional surface this fall, and not on the synthetic surface being installed at Hollywood. Lava Man is being pointed for the BC Classic, and will have a prep race at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

O'Neill said the decision is based on his hopes of winning the BC Classic - and Horse of the Year title.

"I don't know how he would like that surface, and the Breeders' Cup is coming up," O'Neill said of Hollywood Park synthetic surface. "It's nothing against that track."

O'Neill said that the partnership that owns Lava Man is considering the $250,000 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship over 1 1/4 miles on Sept. 30 or the $500,000 Goodwood BC Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on the main track for Lava Man's next race.

Following Lava Man's win in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 20, his sixth consecutive win in a stakes, O'Neill said Lava Man would run in the Hirsch. Sunday, O'Neill said that the Goodwood has been more strongly considered.

"The older male division is so mediocre," he said. "That's a lot of prize money."

Ochoa switches tack to Golden Gate

Jockey Juan Ochoa is relocating to Golden Gate Fields later this week, he said Monday.

Ochoa, who lost his apprentice claim in early August, said it was unclear whether the move would be permanent. "We'll go for a little while and see how it goes," he said.

Through Saturday, Ochoa had won eight races from 133 mounts at the Del Mar meeting. He finished fourth in the standings at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting with 38 wins.

Ochoa will not ride at Del Mar on Wednesday. He is serving the first day of a five-day suspension for causing interference in the sixth race on Aug. 28.

Ochoa was cited for careless riding at the start aboard Sea Driver. The suspension begins on Wednesday but does not resume until the start of the Oak Tree meeting on Sept. 27. The suspension ends on Sept. 30.

In recent years, stewards at Del Mar have delayed suspensions issued near the end of the meet until Oak Tree because many of the circuit's leading riders do not ride at the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex Park. The county fair meeting begins on Friday.

Ineligible horse disqualified

Brite Red State, who finished fourth in Saturday's third race for maiden claimers, was disqualified from the purse money on Sunday after he was found to have been ineligible to run at Del Mar.

Brite Red State, owned by Bob Bone and trained by Jeff Mullins, finished second in a $16,000 claiming race for maidens in his career debut last November. Del Mar's rules of eligibility state that any maiden who has started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less is not eligible to run at Del Mar.

The stewards' ruling stated that Bone had to forfeit $1,200. The order of finish from fourth-place was amended to CR Victory Babe, Mystifying Miss, Diamond Oak Diva, Heavons Caper, Dakota Lass, and Sexy Swiss.

Tom Robbins, director of racing at Del Mar, said that "human error" was the cause of Brite Red State not being scratched before the race.

* Trainers Jerry Hollendorfer ($750), Carla Gaines ($400), and Chuck Peery ($400) all were fined as a result of recent runners testing too high for the legal medication phenylbutazone. Of the three, only Gaines's horse, Dark Sorcerer, was a winner, in the fifth race at Hollywood Park on July 15. Hollendorfer's fine was higher because it was his second offense.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen