12/14/2006 12:00AM

Belgravia has more than an outside chance

Alex Evers/Horsephotos
Belgravia, the undefeated winner of the Prevue, and Julien Leparoux will have to overcome post 10 in Saturday's Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In gymnastics, 10 is a perfect score. In the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Saturday at Hollywood Park, 10 is the outside post, the one drawn by the likely favorite, the unbeaten Belgravia. To keep his record perfect, Belgravia will have to perform some gymnastics. He must overcome the outside post, the short run to the first turn in the 1 1/16-mile race, nine rivals eager to knock him off, and the possibility of rain.

"Good horses overcome anything - they overcome the trainer, they overcome the jockey, they overcome the draw," Patrick Biancone, the trainer of Belgravia, said while watching the 2-year-old colt train on Thursday morning at Hollywood Park. "If he's a good horse, he'll have to overcome it. He drew the grandstand. Psychologically, I'd have liked to have drawn in the middle. But what can you do?"

That will be up to jockey Julien Leparoux, who guided Belgravia to victories against maidens at Keeneland and in last month's Hollywood Prevue. In both races, he rallied from just off the pace. The Futurity - worth an estimated $441,500 - will mark Belgravia's first time around two turns, and he will be taking on Stormello and Principle Secret, who ran one-two in the Norfolk Stakes, at the same 1 1/16-mile distance, during Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

"The advantage we have is that we are not at Churchill Downs on Breeders' Cup Day, when the one path was great," Biancone said. "We have a track that is good all the way around."

The Futurity has proven to be a key late-season race that often is won by a horse who makes an impact the following year. Since 1997, the Futurity has been won by Triple Crown race winners Real Quiet and Point Given, Dubai World Cup winner Captain Steve, Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart, champion 2-year-old Declan's Moon, and Santa Anita Derby winner Brother Derek.

Stormello and Principle Secret are seeking to rebound after disappointing races in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Stormello finished fifth in that race after pressing the pace from post 2. In the Norfolk, he stalked and then pounced, tactics that Bill Currin, his trainer and co-owner, desires to see on Saturday from jockey Kent Desormeaux, who has ridden Stormello in his last three starts.

"We're trying to slow that boy down a bit," Currin said, referring to Stormello. "In the Breeders' Cup, he got pinned down in there and couldn't get out. Kent says he's a mile-and-a-quarter horse. If he is, we have to slow him down at the beginning."

Stormello is in post 4. "That's a whole lot better for him," Currin said.

Principle Secret ran a spectacular race in the Norfolk. After setting swift fractions, he stubbornly battled Stormello before losing by a neck while 6 1/2 lengths in front of the third horse. But in Kentucky, Principle Secret did not train sharply the week of the Breeders' Cup, and then whatever chance he had was compromised when he was stepped on by another horse soon after the start. He wound up with a gash above the hock on the inside of his right hind leg, and another on his left rear pastern, trainer Christopher Paasch said. Jockey Victor Espinoza was aboard that day.

"He just ran off," Paasch said. "Victor said he had no control after that.

"He likes this surface," Paasch added. "At Churchill Downs, it seemed the more he trained on it, the more he didn't like it."

Trainer Doug O'Neill sends out a pair of runners for Paul Reddam, Liquidity and Notional. Liquidity was third as the favorite in the Real Quiet, behind Futurity runners Roman Commander and Unusual Suspect. Notional was third as the favorite in the Prevue behind Belgravia while making only his second start. They are not coupled in the wagering because California's coupling rules are waived for graded stakes races, according to Martin Panza, Hollywood Park's vice president of racing.

Whatsthescript is an intriguing longshot. He has won both his starts since coming to this country from his native Ireland, and though both were on turf, numerous grass horses have made a successful transition to this track's Cushion Track surface this meet.