09/18/2002 11:00PM

Fast track could aid 'A.P.'


BOSSIER CITY, La. - All trainer Niall O'Callaghan wants for the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Saturday is a fast track.

He will send out the talented but lightly raced A.P. Five Hundred, who has caught muddy tracks in his last two starts, finishing third in both the $100,000 Round Table at Arlington and the Grade 3, $300,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington.

"Instinctively, I feel that he'll be better on a fast track," said O'Callaghan. He could get the surface he desires. Although there was rain in the area Thursday and wet weather predicted for Friday, the forecast for Saturday is for mostly sunny skies with a high of 86.

With just five career starts, A.P. Five Hundred is less experienced than his seven rivals in the Super Derby, but he has taken significant steps forward in each of his races and appears to be nearing a peak race.

In the Round Table, he struggled in the mud and finished third to Cowboy Stuff, beaten six lengths. Last month he seemed to handle the wet track better when beaten a half-length by Super Derby rival The Judge Sez Who in the Oklahoma Derby.

"I'm hoping to see him improve a few lengths," said O'Callaghan. "I hope it's his day to move forward and be the horse I think he will be."

A.P. Five Hundred is bred to be a nice one. Purchased as a yearling for $700,000, he is by A.P. Indy and out of a half-sister to champion Sacahuista. His half-brother Gold Streamer is a two-time stakes winner who has earned $182,385.

A.P. Five Hundred is fresher than his rivals who have been doing the derby thing all season. He also has tactical speed in a field filled with stalkers and closers.

O'Callaghan has given the return call to Robby Albarado.

Royal Win looks tough in Wilhite

Royal Win, beaten a length last out in the $30,000 Jim Bowie at Retama Park, is in a good position to pick up his first stakes win Saturday in the $40,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial at Louisiana Downs.

The 1 1/16-mile race is for 3-year-olds on turf. Among the 11 starters is De Real Deal, who was a troubled third last out in the $50,000 Prelude on dirt Aug. 31.

Royal Win, a closer, did well to finish second in the Jim Bowie to Padlock, who wired the field. The race was moved to a "good" main track after wet weather hit the area.

"They were off the grass, and he's way better on grass," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Royal Win for his breeder, Verne Winchell.

Donnie Meche has the mount in the Wilhite.

Jamie Theriot will ride De Real Deal, who encountered trouble on both turns of the Prelude. He has worked well for this race for leading trainer Cole Norman.

Donnie Wilhite was a longtime racing fan and fixture in suite 5 at Louisiana Downs.

* Special post for the first race Saturday is 12:45 p.m. Central. The Super Derby is scheduled to go off at 5:05 p.m.