California-bred Brother Derek broke sharply for jockey Alex Solis and never looked back in winning the $200,000 Norfolk (gr. II) for 2-year-olds Sunday by three-quarters of a length over favored A.P. Warrior at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
Winning trainer Dan Hendricks said afterward that he'd like to take the son of Benchmark to the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Belmont Park later this month and will make a final decision after he consults with Canadian owner Cecil Peacock.
"He's trained like a horse that wants to go long," Hendricks said. "We'll surely look at it (the BC Juvenile)."
Brother Derek is the first Cal-bred to win the Norfolk since Free House in 1996.
Meeting an inexperienced field of 11 – none of the eight contestants had won more than a maiden race – Brother Derek held off the troubled A.P. Warrior and Patrick Valenzuela for a mild upset, completing the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:44 1/5. Jealous Profit, ridden by Corey Nakatani, edged outsider Plug Me In, with Kerwin John, for third.
Brother Derek was hustled to the front from his rail starting position by Solis. They set solid early fractions of :22 4/5 and :46 2/5 while establishing an easy lead. The bay colt got loose in the stretch but tired a bit while under pressure in the final sixteenth as A.P. Warrior closed in.
"I ended up in front and set my own pace, and today we were on the same page," said Solis, who has ridden Brother Derek in all three of his races. "He looks like he wants to go longer. He won very impressive today, and that's his first race going long, so we're looking forward to the next."
The runner-up was forced wide into the clubhouse turn as Valenzuela attempted to take him back off the early pace, then found more traffic trouble near the quarter pole before getting clear for an impressive run in the drive.
"We planned to take him off the pace a little because last time he was a little rank and got in a speed duel," Valenzuela said. "He was a little rank in the first part, but he rated off of them and made a run in the stretch, but just couldn't catch the leader at the wire."
The winner exited a third-place finish, beaten by 8 1/2 lengths, in the I'm Smokin for Cal-breds at six furlongs at Del Mar a month ago. Brother Derek came from off the pace to win his only other start against maiden special weight foes at 4 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park in May.
Mary H. Caldwell bred the winner, a $275,000 Barretts March sale. He's out of the Siyaj Kalem mare Miss Soft Sell.
Brother Derek paid $9, $4.60, and $2.80. A.P. Warrior, sent off the favorite in spite of a fading sixth-place finish in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) in his last start, returned $4 and $3. Jealous Profit, third in the Del Mar Futurity after a terrible start, was $2.80 to show.