03/03/2006 12:00AM

Who's who in Derby future Pool 2

Bill Denver / EQUI-PHOTOS
The undefeated Strong Contender earned an impressive 94 Beyer Speed Figure in only his second lifetime start.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - If you didn't make any bets in Pool 1 of the Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Futures wager, here are some of the things you missed:

* Brother Derek, who now appears to be the horse to beat, at a potential $35 win payoff.

* Keyed Entry, who set a blistering 44.10-second and 1:07.61 pace in defeating First Samurai and earning a 110 Beyer Speed Figure in the 7 1/2-furlong Hutcheson, at a possible $109.60.

* The field (all other 3-year-olds not listed as individual betting interests in Pool 1), at $8.

Although the possibility of collecting an $8 payoff on the field might not sound like much, it is an outstanding value when you note that nine of the individual betting interests from Pool 1 have been replaced in Pool 2 because of injury, a subsequent subpar performance, or a lack of activity that jeopardizes their chances of running in the Derby. Barbican, another individual betting interest in Pool 1 who was also listed individually in Pool 2, was removed from consideration on Friday because of an injury.

Some of the new faces in Pool 2 are interesting. Sweetnorthernsaint acted up before the start of his debut, on the turf at Colonial, and finished far back. He took nearly five months off, then won three straight races on the dirt by an average margin of 11 1/4 lengths. He has shown steady Beyer improvement, earning an 81, a 102, and a 104. The 104 came in the slop in a mile race at Laurel.

Strong Contender is unbeaten and untested in two starts. He was a comfortable winner against maiden specials going six furlongs at Arlington in August. He returned six months later, and was a decisive one-other-than allowance winner going a mile at Gulfstream, with a 94 Beyer. He dueled early for the lead, then pulled away late in that race. The track was playing very fast that day, so don't let the 1:09 and change pace of that race scare you into believing that he is unwilling to set more reasonable fractions.

Steppenwolfer rallied strongly behind a slow pace to win a one-mile two-other-than allowance convincingly at Oaklawn. He then tried bigger game in the Southwest, and made a menacing move that gave 1-2 favorite Lawyer Ron a scare. He fell just three-quarters of a length short in a game second-place finish. Continued progress is likely.

Really Indian debuted in a one-mile maiden special at Santa Anita. He was sixth of seven early and made a powerful run to win going away, with a 91 Beyer. His lack of seasoning is a concern, but if he puts it all together and runs a big race in stakes company, he will deserve plenty of respect.

Great Point was last of 12, 16 lengths off the pace at the first call in the 1 1/8-mile Holy Bull. He flew home late and finished second, three-quarters of a length behind Barbaro. He shouldn't have any problem getting the Derby's 1 1/4 miles. However, it should be pointed out that he was assisted by the slow come-home time of that race. Of course, if the pace of the Derby is aggressive, he would enjoy a similarly favorable pace scenario. His performance in Saturday's Fountain of Youth will yield more clues.

My Golden Song was helped by the same slow come-home time in the Holy Bull, but was less impressive than Great Point while gaining just 2 1/4 lengths and three running positions in a third-place finish. He was scheduled to start in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream on Saturday.

Latent Heat graduated in a seven-furlong maiden special at Santa Anita second time out, with a 97 Beyer. He dueled for the lead early in that race and will have to prove that he wants 1 1/4 miles. He was scheduled to try 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Saturday in the Santa Catalina.

Noonmark is another sprinter who dueled for the lead early and edged away late in his last start. He earned a 97 Beyer. He is scheduled to try seven furlongs in the Swale at Gulfstream on Saturday.

Corinthian graduated by only a length at Aqueduct in a one-mile maiden special, with an 82 Beyer. His subsequent victory by less than a length in a 1 1/8-mile allowance at Gulfstream, with an 87 Beyer, was uninspiring. He will have to improve significantly.

The real betting value in Pool 2 might be Private Vow, who has not raced since Pool 1, and was being overlooked in the early betting in Pool 2. He is expected to make his first start of the year in the 1 1/16-mile Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 18. A good performance there would make him one of the prime contenders for the Derby.