01/27/2006 1:00AM

A.P. Warrior begins climb

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Trainer Eoin Harty says he will be satisfied as long as A.P. Warrior runs well in Sunday's El Camino Real.

SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Eoin Harty has a million-dollar baby and hopes to be in Kentucky the first Saturday in May.

A.P. Warrior, the 3-year-old Harty will saddle in Sunday's 25th running of the El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows, is taking a path that has proven quite successful over the past 24 years. Runners from the El Camino Real Derby, a Grade 3, $250,000 race at 1 1/16 miles, have won seven Triple Crown events, and Harty hopes to rekindle some of the magic.

Stan Fulton, who won last year's El Camino with Uncle Denny, paid $1.3 million for A.P. Warrior.

Harty said the colt's price tag doesn't necessarily put any more pressure on him.

"There's pressure regardless of what they paid," Harty said. "If they got the horse for free, there would still be pressure."

Harty wants to win - "You always expect to win," he said - but a loss wouldn't necessarily mean the end of the Derby trail for A.P. Warrior.

"It's so early in their 3-year-old year," he said. "In May, you'll see a very different horse. He still has more filling out to do. You take results with a pinch of salt. You want to be at your peak the first Saturday in May, not the last Saturday in January.

"It wouldn't discourage me if he didn't win, but he has to run well. I don't want to see a lackluster fourth. He has to run well and be competitive at the finish."

The horses who ran in the El Camino Real Derby and went on to win a Triple Crown race in the last 24 years are: Charismatic (Derby, Preakness), Tabasco Cat (Preakness, Belmont), Snow Chief (Preakness), Tank's Prospect (Preakness), and Gate Dancer (Preakness).

Morey settles for the other Baze

Trainer Bill Morey Jr., who will be represented in the El Camino by Bold Chieftain, had a good time telling people who asked about his rider, "I've got Baze."

Russell Baze rode Bold Chieftain to an impressive win in his last start but is scheduled to ride multiple stakes winner Cause to Believe in the El Camino.

Morey did get Baze, though. Tyler Baze.

Morey said he was speaking with Tyler Baze's agent following Bold Chieftain's victory in a one-mile optional claimer, and the agent told Morey that he and Tyler liked the looks of the colt.

Despite winning his last race, Bold Chieftain adds blinkers for the race. He nearly ducked into the rail coming into the stretch last out, but he straightened out when rivals closed in on him and pulled away again. Stewards approved the addition of blinkers because of the incident. Bold Chieftain worked five furlongs in 57.80 seconds wearing blinkers Jan. 16.

"He went too fast," Morey said, "but there was time for me to get him back in order."

McIngvale entry will run separately

Bay Meadows received permission from the California Horse Racing Board to run the James McIngvale-owned, Tom Roberts-trained entry of Objective and Acolyte as separate entries in the El Camino. Objective, a stakes winner, is 5-1 on the morning line, with Acolyte the longest shot at 30-1.

Objective was schooled in the paddock Thursday. Roberts said he wouldn't mind if scheduled rain hit before Sunday's race because Objective just won the Hill Rise at Santa Anita in the slop. His other career victory came on a good turf course at Golden Gate Fields.

Frisco Star wins close call

Frisco Star, who broke a 23-year-old Santa Rosa track record for 5 1/2 furlongs in his debut, won his second start in a good 1:09.61 for six furlongs but by a much narrower margin than expected Thursday, defeating Barber by a head with The Missile Came another neck back.

Jockey Russell Baze was more impressed by Frisco Star's victory than was his trainer, Greg Gilchrist.

"I was pretty proud of him," said Baze. "He was struggling with the track. About the eighth pole I asked, and he wasn't gaining, but I asked a little more, and, inside the sixteenth [pole], I knew he'd win. It was a pretty game effort."

Gilchrist will probably be happier upon reflection than he was initially after the race.

"I don't know if he'll take anything from this race," Gilchrist said. "I expected him to run nine and change. It looked like he pulled up fine, but he was breathing hard after the race. He didn't go down any in my estimation, but he didn't move up any."

Harry Aleo, who campaigns Eclipse Sprint Champion Lost in the Fog, owns Frisco Star. Aleo, who seldom misses one of his horses' races, didn't see Frisco Star's debut because he had just undergone knee surgery, but was at the track Thursday.

Gilchrist said that Frisco Star, like Lost in the Fog last year, was not nominated to the Triple Crown.

"He's way too far behind," Gilchrist said. "How would we get there? It's only 90 to 100 days away. There are plenty of races. If you try to do too much too soon, you wind up with no horse.

"In three weeks, there's a little overnight [handicap] at Golden Gate. We'll get a clearer picture of where we're at after that race."

If he runs in that race, Frisco Star might then be pointed to the $100,000 California Derby on March 11.