03/21/2006 12:00AM

A son of A.P. Indy could finally win Derby

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LAS VEGAS - Of all the 3-year-olds that ran in last weekend's four Kentucky Derby preps in New York, Arkansas, Southern California, and Florida, the San Felipe runners may have provided the best clues to this year's Derby because the first three finishers are all bred to relish longer distances.

Under the care of new trainer John Shirreffs, A. P. Warrior, a son of A.P. Indy, returned to the good form he showed at 2, winning the San Felipe in a thriller over Point Determined (Point Given) and Bob and John (Seeking the Gold).

A. P. Warrior, a member of A.P. Indy's 10th foal crop, has now won 3 of 7 starts.

I always believed that it was just a matter of time before a son of A.P. Indy won the Kentucky Derby, but it is taking much longer than I expected. A.P. Indy's first crop yielded the brilliant Pulpit, who ran a gallant fourth while injuring himself in the 1997 Derby. Old Trieste, from his second crop, set a dizzying pace before fading in the 1998 Derby. Stephen Got Even never had a chance in the 1999 Derby, being steadied, bumped, and caught in heavy traffic the entire trip.

Aptitude came closest to winning the Derby with a strong late run that was second-best to Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. A P Valentine had a horrific trip running seventh in the 2001 Derby but redeemed himself with better showings in the Preakness and Belmont. Atswhatimtalknbout, seven wide in the stretch, finished fastest of all to be a close fourth in the 2003 Derby. Friends Lake was up the track, finishing 15th in 2004, while Don't Get Mad (Stephen Got Even), a grandson of A.P. Indy, also ran a game fourth after winning the Derby Trial just one week before the Derby.

A. P. Warrior's fourth dam, South Ocean, was a stakes winner who became the cornerstone of a stakes dynasty that produced Storm Bird - the sire of Storm Cat.

A. P. Warrior is out of Warrior Queen, a champion 3-year-old filly in England and Ireland and daughter of Quiet American (the sire of 1998 Derby winner Real Quiet). His second dam, Call Me Fleet (Afleet), is a three-quarter sister to Soundings (Mr. Prospector), the dam of French champion 2-year-old filly Pas de Reponse and French champion older male Green Tune. Soundings also produced stakes winner Ecoute, the dam of Listen Indy, who was third in the 2002 Norfolk Stakes.

A .P. Warrior's third dam, Ocean's Answer (Northern Answer), was a stakes-winning three-quarter sister to Storm Cat, as well as multiple Canadian champion Northernette.

In addition to Storm Bird and Northernette, stakes horses descending from South Ocean include South Sea Dancer (dam of Signal Tap), Biwa Shinseiki, Gold Crest, Scoot, Groomed to Win, Indian Ocean, Lindsay Jean, Didyme, Stormette, Storm Trooper, and Let's Go South.

If he can duplicate his performance in the Santa Anita Derby, A. P. Warrior clearly has the tools to be a major force in the Kentucky Derby.

The Point Given factor

Point Given, Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old, was a disappointment in the 2001 Derby behind Monarchos, but rebounded to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. As expected, his first crop of 3-year-olds are developing into serious racehorses as they mature and stretch out in distance.

Point Determined, who gets a double dose of stamina from Point Given and damsire Broad Brush, had a troubled trip in the San Felipe but showed grit in his fine runner-up performance behind A. P. Warrior. Improving with each start, he should be even better in the longer Santa Anita Derby, which now shapes up as a corker, with Brother Derek, A. P. Warrior, and Bob and John.

Euro shipper dangerous in Lane's End

This weekend's Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park is expected to have at least 12 runners, headed by the unbeaten but lightly raced Strong Contender, and Silent Times, a European shipper with a powerhouse of a pedigree.

Strong Contender has won just two races lifetime but was so impressive in his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream, he immediately jumped on everybody's short list of Derby contenders. By Maria's Mon, who sired Derby winner Monarchos in his very first crop, Strong Contender is out of a mare by strong stamina influence Dynaformer (also the sire of leading Derby contender Barbaro), and his Argentinian female family has produced multiple group winners.

If Silent Times can reproduce his best effort over the Polytrack surface after running well in Europe, he could be the one to beat. By Danehill Dancer, one of Danehill's most successful sons on the track and at stud, Silent Times is out of a full sister to Offlee Wild. His second dam, Alvear (Seattle Slew), is a half-sister to Dynaformer, whose name just keeps popping up among this year's Derby crop.