06/14/2006 11:00PM

Also-rans from Derby try to recover

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Six weeks later, the three are back in Saturday's $100,000 Affirmed Handicap at 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park. Those who run well in the Affirmed could come back in the Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes on July 8.

went into the Kentucky Derby with high expectations. He won the San Felipe Stakes in March and finished third in the Santa Anita Derby. Trained by John Shirreffs for Stan Fulton, A. P. Warrior finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby, emerging with several bumps and bruises, Shirreffs said.

"He hit himself everywhere up and down his tendons, his hind legs," Shirreffs said. "We were very lucky because nothing broke the skin."

The Affirmed is a chance for A. P. Warrior to prove he belongs in the upper tier of the nation's 3-year-olds.

"You hope your horse is all right," Shirreffs said. "You go back to the basics. A horse has to continue its career and you hope to be successful. I'd like to see him run like he did in the San Felipe."

A. P. Warrior is best from off the pace. In the Affirmed, he can track the overmatched Shooter's Touch. Record, the winner of the Derby Trial Stakes, is a stalker, while Point Determined and Cause to Believe, a five-time stakes winner who was 13th in the Kentucky Derby, are best from farther off the pace. Arson Squad has been running in sprints and is likely to race near the front.

Point Determined finished second in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby but was ninth in the Kentucky Derby. The 9-1 fourth choice in the Derby, he was wide early and bumped around before fading from contention.

Still searching for his first stakes win, Point Determined is the 121-pound topweight in the Affirmed.

"I can't believe they made him highweight when he's not won a stakes," trainer Bob Baffert said. "I couldn't understand it. But it won't keep me from running."

Typical of many Baffert starters, Point Determined has worked quickly in recent weeks at Santa Anita, but is making his first start at Hollywood Park, a point of concern for Baffert.

"I have no idea whether he will run over that racetrack," Baffert said. "They either love it or they hate it."