11/24/2006 12:00AM

Hollywood favorites beatable


LEXINGTON, KY. - Hollywood Park is serving up two Grade 1 stakes races on the turf with $500,000 purses on Sunday, the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Derby and the one-mile Matriarch. Both figure to be interesting races.

Showing Up has been very consistent while compiling a career record of 6-0-1 in 8 starts. He has won three of his last four races, with the defeat - a third-place finish in the Man o' War - coming in his lone start in a race that was open to older horses. Handicappers searching for reasons to bet against him in the Hollywood Derby can point to the fact that he enjoyed a relatively easy trip while up close to a slow pace last time in the Jamaica at Belmont. But that weakness might not be exposed on Sunday. Although the early fractions figure to be closer to normal, Showing Up should be just fine while tracking the speed.

The primary challenge to Showing Up on Sunday should come from Brother Derek, who reeled off four straight wins versus graded stakes horses his own age last year and during the early part of this year. He then finished in a dead heat for fourth in the Kentucky Derby and was fourth again in the Preakness.

Brother Derek finished only fourth when he returned from a 3 1/2-month layoff in the El Cajon. But that prep set him up to run a much better race versus older horses second time back in the Goodwood. He finished second, beaten by 2 1/4 lengths by Lava Man, and earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

Even with some help from the track bias, Brother Derek was not able to maintain his early lead last time in the Breeders' Cup Classic. But still he ran well to finish fifth of 13 in that race, with a 109 Beyer. He also turned the tables on Lava Man, who finished two positions and 10 3/4 lengths behind him.

Brother Derek earned 108 Beyers in January and April. He is more mature now than he was then, so he seems quite capable of continuing to improve in the third race of his form cycle. This will be Brother Derek's first race on turf. Conservative bettors will play against him for that reason, but Brother Derek owns a solid 277 Tomlinson turf rating, so I'm willing to take the higher price. I'll bet on Brother Derek to beat Showing Up in the Hollywood Derby.

Matriarch: Plenty of pace

The Matriarch appears to be a contentious race. The pace should be lively with sprinters Cambiocorsa and River's Prayer stretching out. Attima, Mea Domina, and Pommes Frites will also want to be on or near the early lead.

I'm looking for a runner who will rally from off the pace. Three Degrees is interesting as a closer, but she does her best work in longer races. I would make her my top selection if this were a 1 1/8-mile race, but I am concerned that she might not be able to get up in time going a mile.

Clinet used deep-closing tactics and gained four positions and slightly more than three lengths during the last furlong in the one-mile Las Palmas. But she lost that race by a head to Beautyandthebeast, who was located in the rear half of the field, but not as far back as Clinet. That was an eight horse field, while this race has attracted a field of 14.

Clinet will probably have a tougher time while racing wider when she makes her move today. For that reason, I'll make Beautyandthebeast my top selection.

My second pick is Ready to Please. She rated in fourth early and finished second in the Pebbles at Belmont in her first turf start. She should be able to get past the tiring speed, but my concern is that her late kick might not be strong enough to enable her to hold off the best closer in the last furlong.