08/30/2005 12:00AM

Big plans for Apache Point

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CHICAGO - It is getting to be the time of year in Chicago, and many other racing jurisdictions, when an entry-level allowance race for horses 3 years old and upward brings out refugees from maiden claimers, claimers, and every other imaginable kind of race.

Such is not the case, however, in the featured eighth race on Thursday at Arlington Park. This entry-level allowance, at one mile on dirt, drew a field of eight, and there are some serious racehorses in it.

Chief among them is , who has only one win, but a world of natural ability. Apache Point was the best-looking maiden winner at last year's fall-winter meet at Hawthorne, taking his debut Dec. 8 by five lengths. It was six months before Apache Point raced again, his comeback a tough-trip third in a Churchill Downs allowance, and with only that race under his belt, Apache Point finished a strong second in the July 1 Iowa Derby. This time, it was just 15 days until his next start, insufficient time for a young, developing horse to rebound in the heat of the summer, and Apache Point regressed and finished seventh in the Round Table Stakes.

"I think I ran him back a little too quick," trainer Frank Kirby readily conceded. "It was so hot then, too, and it was the first time he had traveled. I think it knocked him out."

Six weeks have passed, and Kirby said he believes he has Apache Point turned in the right direction again. Blazing workouts on Aug. 5 and Aug. 17 suggest as much, especially since Kirby tends to keep a lid on his horses when they breeze.

"He has been training real good, breezing good," said Kirby.

"I'm trying to get a race or two in him and maybe get into some of these 3-year-old stakes that are left," said Kirby, ticking off the Indiana Derby, the Oklahoma Derby, and the Super Derby as possible spots. "I would like to run this horse in some better races if he comes out of this good and moves on."

First, Apache Point has to get past , who finished more than two lengths ahead of him on June 11 at Churchill. Appoint Victory finished fifth in his lone start after that, but won his first race back from his last freshening, and has logged steady breezes at Churchill for trainer Carl Bowman.

, third in the 2003 Hollywood Futurity but winless since 2003, also could run well.