01/31/2006 1:00AM

Three-year-olds on the rise - and bred for the classics


LAS VEGAS - It seems hard to believe, but the Kentucky Derby is just 13 weeks away. Stevie Wonderboy, First Samurai, Bluegrass Cat, Brother Derek, and Private Vow head the list of 3-year-olds pointing for the Triple Crown based on their exploits at 2, but many runners listed below are just beginning to blossom and have the pedigree to make noise in the 3-year-old division:

Barbican (A.P. Indy-Colour Chart, by Mr. Prospector). A full brother to Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Tempera, Barbican has won two of his three races. Trained by Eoin Harty, his next scheduled start is the Fountain of Youth, where he should be tested for class. Since class in the Thoroughbred comes from the female family, Barbican should be able to take the next step up the ladder. His dam, Colour Chart, was a group winner in France at 3 and 4, and she finished second in the U.S. in the Beverly D. Stakes and Santa Maria Handicap and third in the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap.

Barbican's second dam, Rainbow Connection, was a champion at 2 and 3 in Canada, and was also Canada's Broodmare of the Year. The males in a pedigree are the key to distance and surface preference, and Barbican has A.P. Indy, Mr. Prospector, Halo, and Stage Door Johnny in his first four generations, a combination of high class, speed, and stamina. Another half-brother, Equerry (St. Jovite) was a group winner in France and was third in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf.

Corinthian (Pulpit-Multiply, by Easy Goer). A maiden winner last fall at Aqueduct for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, he has the pedigree and running style to succeed at distances over one mile. A half-brother to the stakes winner Desert Hero, he has Pulpit, Easy Goer, Spectacular Bid, and Nijinsky II in his first four generations. His third dam is a three-quarter sister to Nureyev, and also to the dam of Sadler's Wells.

Dr. Pleasure (Thunder Gulch-Beautiful Pleasure, by Maudlin). The most impressive juvenile maiden winner last year at Saratoga, Dr. Pleasure was second in the Cowdin Stakes against a seasoned sprinter, He's Got Grit, and then had a rough trip in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, which was only his third start. His sire won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes and sired Preakness and Belmont winner Point Given. His dam was champion older mare and a full sister to multiple stakes winner Mecke.

Hesanoldsalt (Broad Brush-Salty Gal, by Cox's Ridge). This colt is a full brother to Donn Handicap winner Mongoose. Hesanoldsalt is a member of trainer Nick Zito's army of 3-year-olds, and his recent allowance victory at 1 1/8 miles in a strong field that included Ashado's full brother Sunriver was impressive.

Music School (A.P. Indy-Delta Music, by Dixieland Band). He won his maiden debut despite nearly falling at the start and is working well for 3-year-old debut at Oaklawn for trainer Neil Howard. Music School is closely related to Horse of the Year Mineshaft. His dam is one of five stakes winners from five foals (Mineshaft, Tomisue's Delight, Monashee Mountain, Rock Slide, and Delta Music) out of Acorn and Ashland Stakes winner Prospectors Delite. His third dam, Delaware Oaks winner Up the Flagpole, produced seven stakes winners: Prospectors Delite, Flagbird, Runup the Colors, Top Account, Allied Flag, Fold the Flag, and Long View.

On Board Again (Awesome Again-Flight Delight, by Lear Fan). A winner of his lone start, at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 14 by 4 3/4 lengths, On Board Again is another colt exquisitely bred for classic distances. His sire, Awesome Again, not only won the Breeders' Cup Classic, but also is the sire of Ghostzapper. His damsire is French group winner and successful stallion Lear Fan (Roberto). Lear Fan's dam, Wac, was a full sister to Bel Sheba, the dam of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba.

Point Determined (Point Given-Merengue, by Broad Brush). This Bob Baffert-trained colt won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race, drawing away from well-regarded stablemate Royal Legacy, and is bred to love the Derby 1 1/4-mile distance. He is from the first crop of Point Given, the 2001 Horse of the Year. Point Given's runners were not expected to develop as early juveniles, but to catch up to and pass their contemporaries at 3 and older.

Point Determined's dam was a multiple stakes winner, and his damsire, Broad Brush, was one of the best colts of his generation, winning multiple stakes at 3 and finishing third in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. He was even better at 4, winning the Santa Anita Handicap and Suburban Handicap. Point Determined gets a double dose of stamina from Point Given and Broad Brush and should only get better with maturity and distance.

Tatsuji (Fusachi Pegasus-Pharapache, by Lyphard). He dazzled spectators in his maiden debut, coming from far back after he was squeezed at the start and accelerating quickly to run past everybody else in the field and win by two lengths. By Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, Tatsuji is a half-brother to stakes winner Cliquot and stakes-placed Lily's Lad. His second dam is a half-sister to Aryenne, the dam of Epsom Derby winner Quest for Fame.