01/26/2006 1:00AM

El Camino draws cast of seven

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - A field of seven signed up for Sunday's 25th running of the Grade 3, $250,000 El Camino Real Derby.

Northern California's premier race for 3-year-olds, it will have six betting interests, counting the James McIngvale-owned, Tom Roberts-trained entry of Acolyte and Objective.

Topping in the field are A.P. Warrior, runner-up in the Grade 2 Norfolk at Oak Tree-Santa Anita last fall; Cause to Believe, winner of three stakes and runner-up in two others; and Wanna Runner, third in the Grade 2 San Rafael to Brother Derek and Stevie Wonderboy.

Bold Chieftain and Passive Income also are entered.

A.P. Warrior is definitely on the Kentucky Derby trail and is using the El Camino Real to help get there.

"The timing's right," said A.P. Warrior's trainer, Eoin Harty. "In order to get into the Derby, you need graded money, and it was attractive because we wouldn't be looking at horses like Brother Derek and Stevie Wonderboy."

Alex Solis will ride A.P. Warrior, a $1.3 million yearling purchase who has two wins in five starts and ran fourth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.

A.P. Warrior and Cause to Believe both opened at 20-1 in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which began Thursday, but Cause to Believe isn't pointed to the Derby, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

"I'm pleased they do think that much of him, but the owner [Peter Redekop] doesn't think real seriously about the Derby trail," Hollendorfer said.

* An overflow field of 14 entered a $25,000 claimer at one mile on the turf that tops the Saturday card.

Stakes-winning Gold Ruckus, making his first start since Nov. 16, appears the one to beat, although his conditioning is a question as he drops to the lowest level in his career.

Tonco and Winning Stripes, both of whom are stakes-placed, are also entered, but the strongest rivals for Gold Ruckus might be Lover Marshal, coming off a victory at this level, and Sixty Two Lincoln, who has three solid works since his last start on Dec. 17.

* TVG analyst Todd Shrupp will appear at a Sunday seminar beginning at 11:30 a.m. in Ziggy's Sports Bar on the mezzanine level.