03/25/2007 11:00PM

Wide-open field of 10 expected for derby


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Unlike a year ago, when the undefeated Barbaro went into the $1 million Florida Derby a prohibitive favorite, this year's edition of the Grade 1 event couldn't be more wide open with Scat Daddy, Stormello, and Notional expected to vie for favoritism in a likely field of 10 3-year-olds. Post positions for the Florida Derby will be drawn on Wednesday.

Scat Daddy and Stormello finished first and second, just a nose apart, in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth earlier this month. Trainer Bill Currin said "he's got a score to settle" with Scat Daddy, which is why he's planning on shipping Stormello back to south Florida from his Hollywood Park base instead of remaining home for next week's Santa Anita Derby.

Scat Daddy and Stormello are expected to be joined in the starting lineup by Adore the Gold, who finished just a length back in fourth after forcing the pace for nearly the entire 1 1/8 miles of the Fountain of Youth.

Both Scat Daddy and Stormello will have rider changes for Saturday's rematch. Edgar Prado will move from Adore the Gold to Scat Daddy, while Victor Espinoza replaces Kent Desormeaux aboard Stormello. John Velazquez, Scat Daddy's regular rider, and Desormeaux will both be in Dubai on Saturday.

Stormello was scheduled to share the cross-country plane ride on Tuesday with Notional, who is undefeated at 3 with come-from-behind victories in the Grade 2 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita and the Gradeo3 Risen Star at Fair Grounds.

He, too, has a score to settle on Saturday after having finished sixth behind Stormello in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity in his last start at 2.

Robby Albarado, who rode Notional for the first time in the Risen Star, will retain the mount in the Florida Derby.

Several other key contenders will also have new riders on Saturday. Cornelio Velasquez will take over for Prado on Adore the Gold, Ramon Dominguez replaces Mark Guidry on Chelokee, Rafael Bejarano has the call on Risen Star runner-up Imawildandcrazyguy, and Manoel Cruz gets his first chance with Bold Start.

Also expected to enter are Hal's My Hope (Jose Rivera II), Boogie Boggs (Joe Bravo), and Johannesburg Star (Rajiv Maragh).