01/07/2003 1:00AM

Point Prince due respect


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - In the eye of the beholder.

There wasn't a lot to recommend him. He was a lanky, raw-boned gelding with obscure breeding who had been claimed from his first start for $12,500.

His new owner ran him back for $35,000 with no takers, but Point Prince reminded Barry Irwin of a personal favorite of the past who was effective, and he bought him, as a newly turned 3-year-old last year, for $85,000.

Point Prince had two promising starts in Kentucky, including his winning turf course debut, but the decision to send him to California proved less successful. He was unable to adjust. Returned to trainer Dale Romans in Kentucky late in the fall, he was sharp again, just missing at a mile on the grass in a Churchill Downs allowance race.

Balto Star was the 9-5 favorite in Saturday's $150,000 Appleton Handicap at a mile on the turf at Gulfstream, and Point Prince, largely overlooked, as always, was 29-1. Balto Star, who helped force the pace, was through in the stretch but Point Prince, deftly reserved by Manoel Cruz, finished strongly to wear down Krieger and get the win.

Now a graded stakes winner, Point Prince has enhanced his value considerably. He appears capable of getting middle distances, and his connections have numerous options, including the rich Sunshine Millions program on Jan. 25.

Another timely purchase for Irwin's Team Valor stable is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 18. Added Edge, winner of all four of his starts including the Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct, deserves attention.

Added Edge, by Smart Strike, was a $4,000 yearling purchase in Canada. Irwin bought him for $27,000 after his first start, and, under the supervision of trainer Mark Casse, Added Edge has gone from strength to strength.

"When I saw him for the first time, he was all dried out in appearance," Irwin said. "I saw him again the other day and he looks a picture. He has really come on and we're expecting a big race from him in the Holy Bull."

First Blush shines for Cowans

For breeders with a broodmare band of relatively modest size, Irving and Marjorie Cowan have raced a number of exceptional homebreds, including War Chant, winner of the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile.

They may have another good one in First Blush, winner of the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at six furlongs. Always prominent under Jorge Chavez, First Blush finished well and attracted many compliments. The French Deputy colt is trained by Allen Jerkens.

First Blush, sent off at 11-1 in Gulfstream's opening day feature, is the first foal out of Blushing Princess, a Crafty Prospector mare purchased by the Cowans at Keeneland in 1997 for $65,000. Sent to Neil Drysdale, who also trained War Chant for the Cowans, she was injured, never started, and began a new career as one of the Cowans' 15 broodmares.

"We thought he ran well in the Spectacular Bid, as if he is finally getting it all together," Irv Cowan said. "Each horse is different in the development phase and patience is the key."

The Cowans could be high-stakes players in the Triple Crown races this spring since they have several prospects in addition to First Blush.

They have high hopes for Deputy Wildcat, who is by Deputy Minister and out of their champion filly Hollywood Wildcat. They also have special regard for American Liberty, a Storm Cat colt out of the stakes-producing Love From Mom. Both colts are trained by Drysdale.