11/16/2006 12:00AM

Turf seems to agree with Brother Derek


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - You only get one chance to make a first impression, and what an impression Brother Derek made on Thursday at Hollywood Park.

Brother Derek is under consideration for the Nov. 26 Hollywood Derby, which would mark his turf debut, so on Thursday, trainer Dan Hendricks sent him onto the Hollywood turf for the first time to get a feel for it. Brother Derek was supposed to gallop strongly, but he went so quickly around the turn that clockers put a watch on him and got his final three furlongs in 36.40 seconds under exercise rider Cisco Alvarado. The work, around orange cones known as dogs, was termed breezing.

That was just a warm-up for Sunday, when Brother Derek is supposed to have his final work for the derby. Not that he needs much. He just ran in the Breeders' Cup Classic and will be coming back on only three weeks' rest for the Hollywood Derby.

The busy schedule has given Hendricks pause, but he said he was pleased with what he saw Thursday.

"He grabbed the bit, stretched his legs, and Cisco said he felt good," Hendricks said. "We'll come back Sunday and do something. He doesn't need a lot of work. I just want him to get mentally comfortable on the turf. I didn't want him to go that fast today, but that's a high gallop for him."

The Hollywood Derby is expected to be headed by such accomplished grass runners as Showing Up, who won the Secretariat Stakes, and Dark Islander, who won the Oak Tree Derby.

Fillies in the spotlight

The Hollywood Prevue, for 2-year-old males, is Saturday's feature, but earlier on the card several promising 2-year-old fillies will make their debut.

In the second race, trainer Doug O'Neill sends out Chanel My Belle, a General Meeting filly bred and owned by Paul Reddam. O'Neill also has Catalina Dancer, who finished second in a similar California-bred maiden race on Oct. 27 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

O'Neill said Chanel My Belle has trained well, but that he wasn't happy about her draw on the rail.

"The other filly," O'Neill said, referring to Catalina Dancer, who drew post 2, "always has displayed a ton of speed."

In the sixth race, O'Neill sends out first-time starters Shesalittlepistol and Figuratively.

O'Neill said Shesalittlepistol, who was purchased as a 2-year-old in training earlier this year for $80,000 in Florida, "has got some gas to her."

He said Figuratively, a daughter of Albert the Great, "acts like a filly who wants two turns."

The horse to beat in the sixth might be first-time starter Chocolate Lava, a daughter of Orientate who was purchased for $400,000 in Florida in March by trainer John Sadler on behalf of a new client, Michael Talla.

"She's trained really well. We like her," Sadler said. "The only negative is that she's a Sadler first-time starter," he said, making light of his 5-percent strike rate with first-timers. This summer, however, Sadler clicked with the 2-year-old filly Jump On In at Del Mar.

Assinesi making most of chances

After taking a break from training, Paul Assinesi started anew this summer, and he has made the most of his opportunities. Assinesi, who has just five horses in his care at Hollywood Park, has won with 3 of 7 starters this year, and he will attempt to raise his record to 4 for 8 with No Sox Fox in Saturday's seventh race, a six-furlong optional claimer on turf.

No Sox Fox is owned by Robert and Rose Sims, who have four horses with Assinesi. The other horse Assinesi trains is owned by Pete Accardy, who introduced Assinesi to the Simses and acts as their stable manager.

"I met them in July," Assinesi said of the Simses. "They're based in Canada, but they wanted to start having horses in the United States."

No Sox Fox won 2 of 5 starts at Hastings Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, this summer. He has not raced since Aug. 27. In his only previous grass race, going one mile at Gulfstream Park in March, No Sox Fox faded after setting the pace. He is entered in Saturday's race for a $62,500 claiming price.

"He ran off in that race," Assinesi said. "This distance is better. I didn't necessarily want to try him on turf, but there's no other spot for him. He was entered several times in Canada, but the races weren't going, so they sent him down here."

Harvard Avenue tastes victory

Harvard Avenue won for the first time in more than 18 months in a $53,000 allowance race Wednesday, a victory that could propel him into a stakes during the winter, trainer Doug O'Neill said.

Harvard Avenue ran seven furlongs in 1:22.34, closing from last in a field of five to win by three-quarters of a length over Buckland Manor. The victory was the third of four on the day for jockey Victor Espinoza.

A 5-year-old gelding, Harvard Avenue was making his second start of the year Wednesday. He finished third in an optional claimer on Nov. 1, his first start in more than 14 months.

O'Neill said Harvard Avenue could start in the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Jan. 6.

* E Z Warrior, the winner of the Hollywood Juvenile in July, worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 at Hollywood on Thursday as he nears his return for trainer Bob Baffert.

* Wednesday's pick six returned $11,177.60 to 157 ticketholders after a two-day carryover of $541,201 from the weekend led to heightened interest. Bettors added $2,185,888 to the pool on Wednesday.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen