04/11/2007 12:00AM

Kaplan down to last of Derby hopefuls


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Bill Kaplan will be on the Kentucky Derby road one last time this weekend, shipping Storm in May from his south Florida base to Oaklawn Park for Saturday's Arkansas Derby.

It wasn't long ago that Kaplan had three Kentucky Derby hopefuls after Storm in May won the Sunshine Millions Dash, Drums of Thunder finished second behind Nobiz Like Shobiz in Gulfstream Park's Holy Bull Stakes, and Imawildandcrazyguy finished second to Notional in the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds. But Drums of Thunder and Imawildandcrazyguy are out of the Derby picture.

Drums of Thunder only recently returned to training after coming down with an infection while preparing for the Florida Derby. Kaplan said he is uncertain when he might return to action.

"He missed a month of training but is back jogging now," said Kaplan. "He still hasn't worked yet, so we're just going to have to see how he comes along before thinking about picking out a race."

Imawildandcrazyguy was deputizing for Drums of Thunder in the Florida Derby, and after Imawildandcrazyguy finished sixth behind Scat Daddy and Notional, Kaplan decided to keep him in Florida for the $100,000 Unbridled Stakes at Calder on April 28.

"He's pretty much a one-paced horse who can run all day, so if all goes well in his next start I might think about the Belmont for him," said Kaplan.

Onetime stakes talent in feature

A number of former stakes performers will square off in Friday's $49,500 allowance feature, to be decided under third-level optional claiming conditions out of the one-mile chute.

Wishingitwas, Estevan, Nakayama Kun, and Little Thunder are among the 10 older horses entered in Friday's main event, along with war Tempo, K R's Regent, Sir Jackie, Rexson's Rose, Bucharest and Sleek John.

Wishingitwas won the Metroplex Mile at Lone Star and the Chick Lang Jr. Memorial Stakes at Retama earlier in his career, but has not started since finishing far back in the Grade 3 Lone Star Handicap in May 2006. Now 8, Wishingitwas finished third here a year ago over the turf in the Lure Handicap. He also finished sixth behind Saint Liam and Roses in May in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in 2005.

Estevan is winless since upsetting Woodbine's Labeeb Handicap in November of 2005, although he did finish second in defense of that title last fall. A 6-year-old son of Grand Slam, he will be making his first start for trainer David Fawkes.

Nakayama Kun comes off a 3 1/2-length victory against $50,000 claiming opposition on March 24 and will likely vie for favoritism with Little Thunder. Nakayuma Kun won Ellis Park's Governors Handicap during the summer of 2005 and was fourth in Lone Star's Grade 3 Texas Mile the following spring.

Little Thunder rebounded from a disappointing performance in the Grade 2 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap to finish second in a race similar to Friday's headliner over a sloppy track here on March 22. Trained by Dale Capuano, Little Thunder has posted three victories over the local strip, the most notable of which was his upset of Nightmare Affair in the 2006 Artax Handicap.

Two wins each for two jocks

Jockeys Rajiv Maragh and Elvis Trujillo won a pair of races apiece on Wednesday's card. Maragh's two tallies moved him into a dead heat for seventh in the standings with Eddie Castro. Trujillo has also had a good meet with 34 wins, just 3 fewer than Maragh and Castro.