03/18/2006 12:00AM

A.P. Warrior best in San Felipe

A.P. Warrior has his third victory in seven starts by winning the San Felipe Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - With former "Tonight Show" announcer Ed McMahon presenting the trophy after the San Felipe Stakes, could the result have been anything else?

"Heeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny."

Oh yes, John Shirreffs, who trained last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Giacomo, is back in the hunt.

On Saturday at Santa Anita, Shirreffs sent out A.P. Warrior for the first time since acquiring the colt six weeks ago, and A.P. Warrior responded with an upset victory in the Grade 2, $250,000 , this track's final major prep for next month's Santa Anita Derby.

A.P. Warrior ($17) returned to the form he displayed last fall, when he appeared to be one of the brightest prospects on the West Coast. He moved up four paths wide on the turn to engage the leaders, powered to the front coming into the lane, then held off a late bid by Point Determined by win by a half-length. Bob and John, the even-money favorite, was two lengths farther back in third and just did nose out Racketeer.

A.P. Warrior covered 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:42.40. The victory was his third in seven starts. His first six races were for trainer Eoin Harty. Stan Fulton, who purchased A.P. Warrior as a yearling for $1.3 million, moved the colt to Shirreffs after a fourth-place finish in the El Camino Real Derby on Jan. 29.

Simon Pure, starting from the outside post in the field of nine, left quickest of all and led through fractions of 22.79 seconds, 46.50 seconds, and 1:10.39 for the first six furlongs. Point Determined was right behind Simon Pure heading into the first turn, but could not keep pace when first moving around the far turn and dropped back to fifth.

A.P. Warrior, meanwhile, moved up on his own power, and with three furlongs to go jockey Corey Nakatani took a peek behind to see if anyone was coming. Bob and John was trying to rally while four paths wide, but he went one-paced and never punched it in.

Point Determined, however, got back into the race after being aggressively handled on the turn by jockey Garrett Gomez. He also had to wait for a brief moment in traffic a furlong out. But A.P. Warrior held him safe.

Shirreffs said A.P. Warrior, a son of A.P. Indy, would come back in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8, where he is scheduled to meet Brother Derek, the nation's leading contender for the Kentucky Derby.

*To Sender ($4) overpowered pacesetting Tent in the final sixteenth to take the $84,650 Pasadena Stakes for 3-year-old grass runners on Saturday. Genre was third. Alex Solis rode the winner for trainer Bobby Frankel. To Sender completed one mile on a firm, slightly rain-softened, course in 1:35.47.