04/04/2006 11:00PM

Point Determined carries Lewis legacy

Point Determined, a son of Point Given, could give the Lewis family its first Santa Anita Derby win.

ARCADIA, Calif. - For the second time in less than four years, trainer Bob Baffert has lost a client with whom he won the Kentucky Derby, and with whom he had grown close. Four years ago, only months after War Emblem won the Derby, owner Prince Ahmed bin Salman died, reportedly of a heart attack, in Saudi Arabia.

Less than two months ago, Bob Lewis, with whom Baffert won the 1997 Derby with Silver Charm, also died. But unlike the survivors of Salman - who in short order dispersed their racing holdings - Lewis's widow, Beverly, and oldest son, Jeff, continue to head the stable.

And for this year's Kentucky Derby, they are all intertwined like the inside of a baseball.

The Lewises best current runner is Point Determined, who is a son of Point Given, who was owned by Salman's The Thoroughbred Corporation. Lewis died the morning of Feb. 17, and that afternoon Point Determined won an allowance race at Golden Gate. On Saturday, Point Determined will try to win the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, a race his sire captured in 2001, but which the Lewises have yet to win.

Baffert said a victory would be sweetly satisfying, not only because it would come at the expense of the current Kentucky Derby favorite, Brother Derek, but because of the Lewises.

"This horse, and the rest of the horses, helped keep Bob going in his fight," Baffert said on Wednesday morning at Santa Anita. "For Beverly and Jeff, Point Determined has helped them get through a tough time. The kids lost a dad, Beverly lost a husband. It was a tough day when he died, so it was really neat when this horse won."

Point Determined drew the outside post when six horses were entered on Wednesday in the 1 1/8-mile . Rafael Bejarano will ride him. Inside Point Determined, from the rail out, are A. P. Warrior (Corey Nakatani the rider), Brother Derek (Alex Solis), Wildfang (Omar Berrio), Indy Wildcat (Tyler Baze), and Sacred Light (Aaron Gryder). Brother Derek is the 3-5 favorite on the morning line set by Santa Anita's Jeff Tufts.

The Santa Anita Derby will be the sixth race on an 11-race card, which begins at noon Pacific. Post time for the race, which will be televised live by NBC, is 2:42 p.m. The Santa Anita Derby is the first leg of a pick six that will offer a guaranteed pool of $1 million.

Heavy rain pelted Southern California Tuesday and Wednesday, but it was expected to clear out by Thursday and Friday and be dry on Saturday. "The long-range forecast is for it to be good until Sunday," said Steve Wood, Santa Anita's track superintendant, on Wednesday morning. Wood said the track had been hit by three inches of rain since Sunday night, and that more was expected Wednesday night.

If the forecast is accurate, the track should be close to fast by Saturday afternoon. But if the track is off, that should not hinder Point Determined. He is the lone horse in the field with a race, and a victory, on a wet track, that coming Feb. 17 at Golden Gate.

"The track's going to be a little wet. The pressure," Baffert joked, "is on Steve Wood."

Point Determined, who is coming off a second-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes, has had plenty of experience drilled into him in a short amount of time. When he races on Saturday, he will be making his sixth start since Dec. 26. Baffert said Point Determined did not start until then because he had "super sore shins" after being purchased as a 2-year-old in training in March 2005.

"It took awhile for him to come around," Baffert said. "He needed to get his confidence."

Since he started racing, Point Determined has held up well, Baffert said.

"He's got Point Given's constitution," Baffert said. "He doesn't lose weight. He doesn't look like a horse who ran five times in less than three months. He's getting stronger."

Point Determined was purchased by the Lewises for $750,000 at Barretts. He was one of several big-ticket purchases as yearlings or 2-year-olds that now make up the Lewis-owned crop of 3-year-olds. Their horses are trained by either Baffert or D. Wayne Lukas. Of the colts, Point Determined is the most accomplished to date; the best filly is the Lukas-trained Folklore, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, but she is a homebred.

There have been several expensive busts who cost $500,000 or more as either yearlings or 2-year-olds in training. Lukas trainees include the colts McKenzie Pass ($1 million), Overland Trail ($1 million), Elusive Star ($750,000), Simon Pure ($665,000), and Short Circuit ($525,000), and the filly Impelling ($725,000). Dance Daily, a filly purchased as a 2-year-old in training for $600,000, won the Santa Ynez Stakes, but has largely been a disappointment.

Baffert's big-ticket items for the Lewises include colts such as What a Song ($1.9 million), who died last summer, Point of Impact ($800,000), and Royal Legacy ($550,000). When a client comes with that kind of firepower, a trainer wants dearly to do well. And when it comes with the emotional attachment of the Lewises, the desire is all the more intense.

Point Determined, Baffert said, is "carrying the torch now for Beverly and the rest of the family."

"When the prince died, the horses were like orphans," Baffert said. "But these horses, they're like family. And to have a horse who might be a Kentucky Derby contender, that's the best medicine."

In other Derby developments:

* There are 11 members of the Derby Watch top 25 in action this weekend, including A. P. Warrior, Brother Derek, Point Determined, and Sacred Light in the Santa Anita Derby.

* Baffert has sent Bob and John to the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial on Saturday at Aqueduct. The other Derby Watch horses scheduled to run in that race are Deputy Glitters, Keyed Entry, and Like Now.

* The Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby on Saturday at Hawthorne drew a field of 10, including Derby Watch members Cause to Believe, My Golden Song, and Sweetnorthernsaint.

* Both the Wood and Illinois Derby will be shown live on ABC from 4-5 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

3-year-old graded stakes earnings

The leading contenders for the 132nd Kentucky Derby based on earnings in graded stakes races, the tiebreaker if the field exceeds the maximum 20 entries:

1Discreet Cat$1,200,000
2First Samurai834,900
4Brother Derek664,980
5Lawyer Ron340,800
6Private Vow317,888
7With a City300,000
8Sharp Humor280,000
9Bluegrass Cat237,980
10A. P. Warrior233,185
11Deputy Glitters160,000
12Bob and John140,370
13Cause to Believe137,500
14Keyed Entry130,000
15Seaside Retreat125,807
16Like Now120,000
17Flashy Bull109,000
19Red Raymond93,120
20High Cotton67,820
22Sam's Ace60,000
23Sacred Light52,300
24Point Determined50,000
25My Golden Song34,500
28Mister Triester12,000
29Greeley's Legacy10,000
30Saint Augustus8,040
32Strong Contender0