12/13/2006 12:00AM

Belgravia follows successful formula

Alex Evers/Horsephotos
Belgravia will seek his third victory and second stakes in Saturday's Hollywood Futurity.

The path trainer Patrick Biancone has chosen for Belgravia is one he has been down before. Get an expensive youngster, win first time out, capture the Hollywood Prevue, then take aim at the Hollywood Futurity, and beyond.

Three years ago, Lion Heart won his first two starts, including the Prevue, then took the Futurity. He went on to finish second to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.

The trail is marked, and Belgravia is following it. He won first time out, then won again in the Prevue. On Saturday, he, too, will try to win the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park. And after that, Belgravia will be pointed for the Derby.

"We didn't rush him," Biancone said. "We just went gradually. It worked very well with Lion Heart. If you look at it, it's exactly the same. When something works for you, you do not change."

There have been high hopes for Belgravia since February, when he brought $2 million at the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-olds in training sale at Calder. Biancone was part of a brain trust that included Demi O'Byrne, who buys horses for owners John Magnier and Michael Tabor. Belgravia tipped his hand with a fast workout. Biancone said Belgravia, a chestnut-colored son of Mr. Greeley, was a "lovely horse."

"He worked quite well, and he had a good style," Biancone said. "I just advise with Demi. When it comes to buying the horse, or how much to spend, it's up to him."

Does he get nervous being entrusted with such an expensive horse?

"The ones that cost a lot of money should be better," Biancone said. "If I've got a client that will spend millions, I think I'm in better shape."

Magnier, Tabor, and O'Byrne are not bashful when it comes to spending money on unproven bloodstock. They set a record with their $16 million purchase of The Green Monkey, another 2-year-old colt, who is with trainer Todd Pletcher and has yet to race. In Belgravia, they brought in a partner, Ahmed Zayet.

Belgravia was not pushed to make the races.

"I didn't want to rush him. He's bred to go two turns," Biancone said.

After the sale in February, Belgravia spent time at a training center in Florida. He came to Biancone's barn this past summer, and made his first start at Keeneland on Oct. 18.

The word was out. Belgravia was bet down to 6-5 against nine rivals in his debut. And despite getting fanned wide on the turn, he closed furiously to win.

Tabor is desirous of having his horses train on artificial surfaces, and Biancone has been one of the nation's most vocal supporters of the trend toward artificial surfaces. So, Biancone was all too pleased to bring Belgravia to Hollywood Park to train, and eventually race, over the new Cushion Track surface. Biancone has 18 horses at Hollywood Park, including Belgravia, and another 20 at Turfway Park, which has Polytrack.

In Belgravia's first start at Hollywood, in the Prevue on Nov. 18, he again lagged just off the early leaders, then surged to the front. This time, though, he was running against accomplished, experienced runners such as Dilemma. But Belgravia showed latent talent to hold off Dilemma to remain unbeaten, and in the process earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95.

"What I like about him is that he does the minimum all the time," Biancone said. "What I mean is, he doesn't overuse himself. He's very relaxed. He does just enough to do the job. He's done everything we've asked in the morning and the afternoon so far. He's easy to train."

As with Lion Heart, Biancone has eschewed medication for Belgravia. It's one of racing's dirty little secrets that many horses who are not bleeders still receive Lasix, just because trainers feel compelled to keep up with the guy next to him. But Belgravia has yet to receive Lasix, which puts him in a distinct minority.

"He doesn't need it. Simple as that," Biancone said, refreshingly. "I will not judge other people. So far, so good, he hasn't needed it. We never used it with Lion Heart. I mean, if a person trained with aspirin every day, and did not need it, eventually it loses its effectiveness and does not work."

Both of Belgravia's races so far have been sprints. But based on his pedigree, and his running style, more distance should suit him. On Saturday, he will stretch out around two turns to 1 1/16 miles.

"You never know, but I would think he would prefer two turns to one turn," Biancone said. "The future will tell us very soon."