09/01/2006 11:00PM

Opportunity knocks for dozen


AUBURN, Wash. - A full field of 12 3-year-olds will contest Monday's $100,000 Emerald Downs Breeders' Cup Derby at 1 1/8 miles, but Brother Bobby won't be in it.

The lightly raced Brother Bobby, who almost certainly would have been favored off the big late run that netted second in last month's Seattle Slew Handicap, was excluded when 13 horses with more earnings were entered. Also excluded was Coach Sween, a winner of two of his five starts.

Favoritism is up for grabs with Brother Bobby on the sidelines, but handicappers will certainly want to take a long look at two invaders from Canada and one from California.

The Californian is Midwesterner, who arrived a week ago at the barn of local trainer Frank Lucarelli. Midwesterner, a Washington-bred son of Petersburg who was trained in California by Ed Moger Jr., collected his maiden win against special weight company in his Jan. 29 debut at Bay Meadows. He is winless in seven subsequent starts, but he ran second in the six-furlong Stinson Beach Stakes at Golden Gate in April and he is coming off a second against $40,000 optional claiming company at Solano on July 19, when he attempted a mile for the first time.

The two Canadians, Yoodaman and Sungold Wonder, finished fifth and eighth when last seen on Aug. 7 in a 1 1/16-mile stakes for B.C.-breds at Hastings Park. Yoodaman has just a maiden win to show for 11 starts, but Sungold Wonder won last season's rich Jack Diamond Futurity at Hastings. He is winless in five starts this year.

The local contingent is headed by Exclusive Eagle and Courting Seattle, the first and third finishers in the 1 1/16-mile Seattle Slew Handicap here on Aug. 6. Exclusive Eagle, who is trained by Craig Roberts, upset the Seattle Slew at odds of 25-1 for his second win, but his score did not look to be a fluke. Exclusive Eagle, a son of Flying With Eagles, finished strongly to defeat Brother Bobby by a half-length in a very creditable 1:42.40.

Courting Seattle has been the steadiest performer in Emerald's 3-year-old division this season, posting a win, a second, and two thirds from four starts, all in stakes. Courting Seattle, a son of Doneraile Court trained by Howard Belvoir, has set or attended the pace in all of his 3-year-old outings and again figures as the one to catch on Monday.