12/18/2003 12:00AM

Is there another Siberland around?


PHOENIX - Last year a romping victory in the Arizona Juvenile at Turf Paradise shoved Siberland into the spotlight, making him a legitimate traveler on the Derby trail until he was knocked out by injury.

It's too soon to say whether there's a potential Derby horse this year at Turf Paradise, but Saturday's $50,000 Arizona Juvenile renewal will answer one question: Who's the best 2-year-old male on the circuit?

A full field of 12 runs in the 6 1/2-furlong event for juvenile males.

Favoritism may fall to Bold Merit, who is trained by Bryan Porter. He comes off a smashing victory in the Fool the Experts here at 6 1/2 furlongs Nov. 25. A son of Bold Anthony, Bold Merit bided his time early, moved up inside, and quickly drew off to a 4 3/4-length romp. That was his second victory in a row in three lifetime starts; both wins came after the addition of Lasix. Regular rider Steve Gomez will be aboard Saturday.

Two horses who chased Bold Merit are back for more. Snowbound Writer impressively won the ATBA Sales Stakes at Turf Paradise Oct. 18. The Fool the Experts was his first try vs. open foes and, bet down to 5-2, he held on to be a clear second after setting a sizzling pace. Kelly Bridges rides Snowbound Writer, trained by Bill Brashears.

Cincinnati Jay was the 9-5 favorite in the Fool on the Experts on the strength of three straight wins, including a victory in the Sail on By at Turf Paradise Nov. 5. In the Fool the Experts, Cincinnati Jay pressed the early pace but gave way badly, finishing eighth of nine.

The most interesting entrant may be Thundering Verzy. Trained by Phil Storms, he terrorized fellow juveniles at Columbus in Nebraska, going unbeaten in his three starts there. His combined margin of victory for the three races was over 20 lengths.

He has to ship to new surroundings, however, and he hasn't run since a 15-plus-length romp in the restricted Columbus Futurity Sept. 7. Miguel Hernandez rides.