After a four-week break, Cecil Peacock's dual grade 1 winner Brother Derek returned to Santa Anita's main track this past Saturday to begin preparations for a probable start in the $1 million Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) on Aug. 6 at Monmouth Park, trainer Dan Hendricks revealed.
The bay son of Benchmark was given some well-earned time off following back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and May 20 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), his first significant break since being purchased for $275,000 as a Barretts Select 2-year-old in training in March, 2005.
"He'd been in steady training for more than a year since we bought him, so we gave him four weeks off," Hendricks said. "He's very healthy and doing great now. He'll probably work at the end of the month. We're looking forward to running at Monmouth Park."
Hendricks said that Brother Derek spent his off time "just hanging around the barn" and walking the shedrow under an Astride weight belt, which is a device that simulates a rider's weight on a horse's back.
"(The weight belt) is just a tool to help really get him back into training," Hendricks explained. "When (the horses) go back to the track, there's no added pressure or stress on their legs whatsoever."
The long-term goal for Brother Derek, Hendricks said, is a start in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) - Powered by Dodge at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, and possibly the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in October as a first likely appearance against older horses and final stepping stone to the World Thoroughbred Championships.
"We don't want to run every race out of town," Hendricks said. "The Goodwood is a good race for him; he can stay at home and run over a track that he loves. We still have a long year ahead. We had one of the best 3-year-olds in the country going into the Triple Crown and, even though we didn't win, we still have one of the best 3-year-olds after. Our first goal, however, is to win the Haskell."
California-bred Brother Derek, who has banked $1,302,080 from a record of 10-6-0-1, won this year's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II), and San Rafael Stakes (gr. II), as well as last year's Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and Norfolk Stakes (gr. II).