09/19/2006 11:00PM

Point Determined good fit for Baffert's first Super Derby


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Here's an odd bit of trivia. Trainer Bob Baffert, a Kentucky Derby-winning horseman who has been associated with a long list of top-class 3-year-olds, has never started a horse in the . That will change on Saturday, when he accompanies Point Determined to town for the Grade 2, $500,000 race at Louisiana Downs.

Point Determined will also be Baffert's first starter at Louisiana Downs, and he should go off as the second choice behind favorite Lawyer Ron.

"I've always seen the Super Derby and I've wanted to come with horses," said Baffert.

Point Determined was tabbed for the race on Monday, after he worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds at his Santa Anita base. Prior to that drill, he went four furlongs in a bullet 45.60 seconds on Sept. 12.

"If they're training well, then you go wherever you feel you fit, so I think it's a good fit," Baffert said of the Super Derby. "I mean, it's a tough race, but it's a good fit. I've never been there, so it's exciting to go down there. Anytime they put $500,000 up, you've got to take a chance at it."

Point Determined is returning to dirt for the Super Derby after making his turf debut in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby last out and finishing ninth. There were a couple of reasons for the start on turf, said Baffert.

"He's sort of a lazy horse, and he didn't like the Del Mar surface, and I didn't want to run him on the dirt," he said. "He's a different horse here at Santa Anita. I worked him on the turf a couple of days out, it was sort of a last-minute decision to take a shot in it, and I just knew immediately [into the race] that he didn't like it. So, it was one of those, just draw a line through it. But he's a much better horse than that. He's a good dirt horse."

Point Determined has placed in four of his five graded starts on dirt, including a runner-up finish to Brother Derek in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. That race sent him to the Kentucky Derby, and he finished ninth. One start later, Point Determined won the biggest race of his career, in the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park.

He followed up that effort with a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Swaps Breeders' Cup on July 8, then made the turf start at Del Mar in his last out Sept. 3. Point Determined races for Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust, and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza. He is a son of Point Given, the 2001 Horse of the Year trained by Baffert.

Sweeping changes for Super Derby

The entire Super Derby program will have a new look on Saturday. For starters, the purse and distance of the Super Derby have been scaled back this year, reverting to the 2004 levels of $500,000 and 1 1/8 miles after a one-year experiment at $750,000 and 1 1/4 miles. In a plan discussed with horsemen before the meet, the additional funds have been redistributed into the undercard stakes, with four turf races now supporting the Super Derby.

The DeBartolo Oaks and the Louisiana Downs Breeders' Cup Handicap were at least doubled in value to $200,000 for this year's running, bringing total stakes purse distribution to more than $1 million on Saturday. The idea was to make the Super Derby more of a "Super Derby Day," said Mark Midland, vice president of racing operations at Louisiana Downs.

The response was strong. The Super Derby drew horses from across the country, and so did the undercard stakes.

"We should have a good California influx," Louisiana Downs racing secretary Tony Patterson said earlier this week, and it proved true. There were five horses scheduled to fly into town from California for stakes on Thursday, including Charming N Lovable for the DeBartolo. In that race, she will meet the Todd Pletcher-trained Dancing Band.

Trainer Frank Brothers has sent Rahystrada for the $100,000 Juvenile, while the California-based Warrior Song will take on a local group of older horses that includes Don'tbotherknocking, Dreamsand-visions, and Waupaca in the Louisiana Downs BC.

* There was a false start of sorts during the draw for the Super Derby. An official misread one of the numbers on the pills three horses into the draw, and the draw procedure had to be restarted. For those keeping tabs, Point Determined was said to have drawn the rail the first time around, when his seven-pill was misread as a 1. He will actually break from gate 6.

* Lawyer Ron and Strong Contender flew into town Wednesday, rolling into the backstretch as scheduled, at a little after 2op.m. Central, according to an official with Louisiana Downs.