03/07/2007 12:00AM

Hollendorfer trio auditioning for Derby shot

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SAN MATEO, Calif. – Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has three entrants for Saturday’s Grade?3, $200,000 El Camino Real Derby, a race that has been a key to several of Hollendorfer’s Kentucky Derby-bound 3-year-olds.

Hollendorfer’s trio in the 1 1/16-mile El Camino Real are: California Derby winner Bwana Bull, his top Derby candidate; Candy’s Bro, who is getting a second chance around two turns; and Brave Sun, who has won three straight starts since Hollendorfer claimed him for $32,000 from a Hollywood Park maiden race on Nov. 18.

Hollendorfer believes Bwana Bull has the qualities of a Kentucky Derby runner, but Bwana Bull has not won any money in a graded stakes, and Hollendorfer hopes to remedy that situation on Saturday. If more than 20 horses are entered in the Kentucky Derby, the 20 with the most graded earnings are allowed to run.

“He has to show what he can do to remain on the trail,” Hollendorfer said of Bwana Bull.

Russell Baze, who will ride Bwana Bull, said he just wants “to see him run his race.”

“I don’t want to see an excuse for getting beat,” he said.

Hollendorfer thinks both Candy’s Bro and Brave Sun have talent that they haven’t shown.

“I don’t think we’ve seen Candy’s Bro’s potential yet,” he said. “He’s been working well.”

Brave Sun, who has won a $32,000 maiden claimer, a starter allowance, and a first-level allowance race for Hollendorfer, is not Triple Crown-nominated, but Hollendorfer said, “He earned his chance to run here.”

Baze, who has ridden Brave Sun to all three wins for Hollendorfer, said: “He’s hard-trying. He may not have as much talent, but lots of times horses that try have a way of surprising you.”

Hollendorfer won the El Camino in 1998 with Event of the Year, who followed with a victory in the Grade 2 Jim Beam at Turfway. He fractured a knee eight days before the Derby.

Two years after Event of the Year, Globalize was fourth in the El Camino for Hollendorfer after winning the Golden State Mile.

Hollendorfer shipped him to Kentucky, and he won the Grade 2 Spiral Stakes at Turfway. But he also was injured before the Derby.

The Hollendorfer-trained Cause to Believe won the El Camino and California Derby last year, then went on to finish 13th in the Kentucky Derby.

Turf racing resumes

Northern California’s first turf races of the year are scheduled for Friday. Motel Staff and Tonco, with a combined 10 wins over the course, top a $25,000 claimer at a mile. Also in the race are Time to Honor and Zappa, who each won his only start over the course.

In the other turf race, six maiden fillies and mares will compete at 7 1/2-furlongs, including Southern California-based No Lullaby, who has hit the board in 8 of 9 turf tries.