07/06/2006 12:00AM

Top three from Affirmed get a rematch in Swaps


This is the time of year when Hollywood television executives go on hiatus and program plenty of reruns. That philosophy will continue early Saturday afternoon at Hollywood Park with the Grade 2, $350,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes, which looks like a repeat of the Affirmed Handicap run three weeks ago.

were the first three across the line in the Affirmed, and they are back for a rematch in the Swaps, joined only by the outmatched Potential, a recent maiden claiming winner who is guaranteed at least $21,000 in prize money because no one else entered.

Point Determined just did nose out A. P. Warrior following a protracted stretch duel in the Affirmed, and they figure to hook up again in the Swaps, which, at 1 1/8 miles, is 110 yards farther than the Affirmed. The pace of the race again figures to be moderate, A. P. Warrior again figures to make the lead, and Victor Espinoza, who rides Point Determined, will again have to relentlessly keep after his notoriously idling colt.

"We had to change his style last time," said Bob Baffert, who trains Point Determined. "A. P. Warrior, you can't let him get away. Going a mile and an eighth, they probably won't go as fast early."

Point Determined has often promised more than he has delivered. He was second in the San Felipe (to A. P. Warrior), then second in the Santa Anita Derby. He is not a flashy work horse. Just as in the afternoon, he has to be ridden along throughout.

"We always knew he was a good horse," Baffert said. "You've just got to force it out of him. Victor is good for him. He puts him in the fight early. When Victor comes back, he's blowing more than the horse."

The Swaps will mark the fifth straight race in which Point Determined and A. P. Warrior have met. A. P. Warrior beat Point Determined in the San Felipe in March, but Point Determined has finished in front of A. P. Warrior in three subsequent starts.

Under the conditions of the Swaps, Point Determined drops three pounds off his Affirmed victory, down to 118 pounds, while A. P. Warrior winds up with the same 120 pounds he carried last time.

The Affirmed was a heartbreaking loss for A. P. Warrior and his trainer, John Shirreffs.

"I thought he ran a great race," Shirreffs said. "He was passed, then he battled back. I wish he'd have won, but he showed a lot of determination."

Shirreffs said he was concerned with the way the Swaps figured to unfold. With A. P. Warrior drawing the rail, and with little speed in the race, he should make the lead, but Shirreffs believes A. P. Warrior is best with a target.

"He probably does better with another horse in front of him," Shirreffs said.

Arson Squad was a distant third in the Affirmed, which was his first try around two turns.

Potential beat maiden claimers in a sprint in his second career start at odds of 64-1 a few races after the Affirmed on June 17.