03/16/2006 12:00AM

Bob and John leads the charge for Baffert

Bob and John (above) and Point Determined, are the leading contenders among nine colts entered in Saturday's San Felipe Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Even for a guy who has won the Kentucky Derby three times, the butterflies never leave. Here it is seven weeks until the Derby, and already Bob Baffert is getting anxious.

"Every work, every race, you're on pins and needles from here on out," he said.

Baffert has good reason this year. He has several promising 3-year-olds, two of whom, Bob and John and Point Determined, are the leading contenders among nine colts entered in the Grade 2, $250,000 on Saturday at Santa Anita.

The San Felipe is the last major prep race for the Santa Anita Derby three weeks hence on April 8. Brother Derek and Sacred Light, the one-two finishers from the Santa Catalina Stakes two weeks ago, already have punched their tickets in the March Madness leading to the Santa Anita Derby. The San Felipe will help fill out the field.

Bob and John figures to be favored. He has won two straight, including last month's Sham Stakes, since finishing third to Brother Derek in the Hollywood Futurity. A powerfully built son of Seeking the Gold, Bob and John is tall, dark, and handsome, and has grown into his frame in recent months. He acts as though there is still plenty of upside.

However, Bob and John has yet to race on an off track, and there is the possibility of rain for Saturday. Oftentimes, the track is sealed at Santa Anita when wet weather arrives.

"The weather scares me," Baffert said. "I hope the track isn't too hard."

Point Determined is making his stakes debut. He was sent to Golden Gate Fields last month to get through his first-level allowance condition

"He just cruised around there and didn't have to run very hard," Baffert said. "It was a good experience. He had to ship up there. And he was wide the whole way."

Point Determined has been on an accelerated learning program. This will be his fifth start in less than three months.

Refinery was right behind Point Determined in a first-level allowance race earlier this meet, then beat a similar field last time out when fitted with blinkers for the first time.

"I think it made quite a difference," said Refinery's trainer, Richard Mandella. "He's a colt with a lot of talent, but a lot of times in his works and his races we didn't think he was giving 100 percent. He's not mean, but he plays. The blinkers made him focus, made him serious.

"It's time to get into the deep end of the pool," Mandella said. "Saturday, it gets pretty deep. This will tell us what we've got."

A.P. Warrior is making his first start for trainer John Shirreffs. He was fourth in the Hollywood Futurity and El Camino Real Derby in his last two starts.

Racketeer is making his stakes debut, and his first start around two turns. He was third after breaking poorly in a first-level allowance sprint last month. Racketeer breezed three furlongs in 37.80 seconds on Thursday morning at Hollywood Park.

Simon Pure defeated maidens in his second lifetime start last time out, on March 2. He figures to make the running from his outside post. Sky Diving, also trained by Baffert, most recently was second in the Turf Paradise Derby.

New Joysey Jeff was second to Refinery in an allowance race Feb. 25. Blazing Sunset was a distant sixth of eight in the Santa Catalina.

The field

San Felipe Stakes
Purse: $250,000; 1 1/16 miles; Grade 2

1Point DeterminedG. Gomez1163-1
2RacketeerP. Valenzuela1168-1
3A. P. WarriorC. Nakatani1166-1
4RefineryT. Baze1165-1
5Bob and JohnV. Espinoza1229-5
6New Joysey JeffA. Solis11615-1
7Blazing SunsetF. Martinez11620-1
8Sky DivingD. Flores11615-1
9Simon PureJ. Court11612-1

* Blinkers off: Sky Diving
* Odds by Michael Hammersly
* Television: Saturday, 6 p.m. (Eastern), ESPN