03/29/2006 12:00AM

Maiden has eye on Arkansas Derby

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Oaklawn Park on Friday could serve as Film Fortune's stepping-stone to the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby here April 15.

"We'll see what he does Friday," said Jack Van Berg, who trains Film Fortune.

Van Berg and owners Elizabeth and Tom Baxter flew Film Fortune to Oaklawn from Southern California this month for the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel Stakes on March 18, and he closed for fifth, 5 1/2 lengths behind winner Lawyer Ron.

"He got in trouble up around the [final] turn," Van Berg said after the Rebel. "He just didn't have anywhere to go, and in my mind, I think it could have cost him second money."

Following the race, the Baxters and Van Berg decided to leave Film Fortune at Oaklawn for a possible start in the Arkansas Derby. He breezed three furlongs from the gate in 38.20 seconds here Wednesday.

"He's training really good, and he needs a little something to do," said Van Berg.

should go favored in race 8, based on the drop in class to the maiden ranks, and because he owns the field's highest last-race Beyer Speed Figure, an 84. He also has good route experience, and has settled in nicely at Oaklawn, said Van Berg. Stewart Elliott, who rode Film Fortune in the Rebel, has the return call on Friday.

Copy My Notes after second straight

Copy My Notes could be flattered by the time the featured ninth race goes Friday. In his last start, he was a neck winner over Jimmy Bond, who was scheduled to run back as the probable favorite in Thursday's featured ninth race.

, who was fourth last out to Gouldings Green in a highly rated optional claimer here Feb. 25; and Three Hour Nap, who could be sitting on a peak race in his third start back from a layoff for trainer Mac Robertson.

Others in the race are , a multiple stakes winner; Carroll County, who has never run worse than third at Oaklawn; and Slade, who owns the field's highest last race Beyer Speed Figure, a 94.

Copy My Notes is owned by Iron Horse Racing, trained by Bob Holthus, and will be ridden by John McKee.