09/02/2005 12:00AM

Pa. Derby favorites draw outside

Sun King will try to win the Pennsylvania Derby from post 14.

It's fairly common in harness racing for the racing secretary to assign the best horses to the far outside post positions in an attempt to create a more competitive race. That's not how it works in Thoroughbred racing, but it is how Lady Luck treated the two favorites on the track's morning line for Monday's $750,000 .

Sun King and Real Dandy drew the two outside stalls in Philadelphia Park's starting gate for the Grade 2 derby.

Ordinarily, that might not be too much of a problem. But the 1 1/8-mile stakes attracted a record field of 14 3-year-olds, meaning 2-1 favorite Sun King in post 14 and 9-2 second choice Real Dandy in post 13 will have their work cut out for them.

The largest field in Pennsylvania Derby history was 13 in 1985, a race won by Skip Trial.

Rarely does Philly Park conduct a two-turn race on the main track with more than 12 starters. Since 2000, there has been only one race with as many as 13 horses - and the runner marooned in post 13 didn't win.

Sun King, part of a Nick Zito-trained entry with Indy Storm, has been a new horse since adding blinkers. Racing on the lead, he won the Grade 3 Leonard Richards Stakes at Delaware Park and finished a close second to Roman Ruler in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

An outside post may not be as detrimental to Real Dandy, a deep closer. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Real Dandy passed 10 horses to win the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Race Track in his most recent start.

The only other graded stakes winner in the field is Southern Africa, who captured the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby in Texas during the spring. Trainer Michael Puhich has given Southern Africa two months off to regroup following poor performances in the Belmont Stakes and the Grade 3 Arlington Classic, a turf race.

Other contenders include Network, winner of four straight, including two minor stakes at Monmouth; Tani Maru, who romped by nearly 10 lengths and posted a career-high 98 Beyer Speed Figure in his first try over Philly Park's surface last month; It's Time to Smile, idle since finishing third in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby in July; and Anthony J., third, beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Real Dandy, in the West Virginia Derby.