01/27/2006 12:00AM

A.P. Warrior just needs to relax

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Trainer Eoin Harty has always considered A.P. Warrior a Kentucky Derby candidate.

A $1.3 million yearling purchase, A.P. Warrior can begin his Kentucky Derby trek Sunday in Grade 3, $250,000 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows. The El Camino is a legitimate test for A.P. Warrior or any of the other six runners entered in the 1 1/16-mile race.

, second in last year's Grade 2 Norfolk at Santa Anita, is the second choice on the morning line at 2-1, behind Wanna Runner at 8-5. Wanna Runner, trained by Bob Baffert, just ran third behind Brother Derek and Stevie Wonderboy in the Grade 2 San Rafael at Santa Anita two weeks ago.

A.P. Warrior comes off what Harty considers a puzzling fourth under Garrett Gomez in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity at 1 1/16 miles, which was won by Brother Derek.

"Garrett had trouble with him early, and he was fanned wide into the first turn," Harty said. "He was off the pace on a speed-favoring track that day. Nothing was catching up, but maybe it was the others. Brother Derek came back and ran a very big race."

A.P. Warrior is at his best when he can relax just off the pace. With Acolyte, Bold Chieftain, Wanna Runner, and Objective in the race, there seems to be enough speed to set things up for A.P. Warrior.

has 4 wins and 3 seconds in 7 career starts, including three stakes victories and a second to Too Much Bling in the San Miguel at Santa Anita on Jan. 8. Cause to Believe will be coming from well off the pace.

"He has his own style," said his trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who added that he'd like Cause to Believe to sit a little closer. "He wants to lay back and make a run."

Cause to Believe was listed at 20-1, the same as A.P. Warrior, in the morning line for Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which started Thursday and ends Sunday, before the start of the El Camino. Cause to Believe won his lone route start here and has a good chance at a bit of a price.

and Objective, both owned by James McIngvale and trained by Tom Roberts, will run as separate entries with the approval of the California Horse Racing Board. Objective is listed at 5-1, and Acolyte, coming off a maiden victory, is 30-1.