06/25/2003 11:00PM

Beverly Hills is round four


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - For the fourth time in less than a year, Dublino and Megahertz will meet in a major stakes, this time in Saturday's $200,000 Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Judging from their first three encounters, their latest matchup could be memorable.

Dublino finished first in the 2002 American Oaks but was demoted to second for interfering with the runner-up, Megahertz, in deep stretch. A month later in the Del Mar Oaks, Dublino rallied to catch Megahertz at the finish, winning by a nose in a thrilling race.

In their only meeting this year, Dublino finished second to Tates Creek in the Gamely Breeders' Cup Handicap on May 26, with Megahertz a close third.

Tates Creek is entered for the Beverly Hills, but Bobby Frankel on Thursday said there was "very little" chance that she would run.

Without Tates Creek, the 123-pound topweight, Dublino and Megahertz are the top two contenders against Voodoo Dancer, Damaschino, and Se Vera.

Dublino will carry 122 pounds and will be ridden for the first time by Victor Espinoza. His former jockey, Kent Desormeaux, is riding in Japan on Saturday.

Espinoza inherits a mount on a 4-year-old filly who has run only one poor race in five starts since arriving from France last year, a 10th in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf last October on yielding turf.

Most effective on firm ground, Dublino has adapted a stalking role this year, a change from her style in 2002 when she rallied from the back of the field.

"Last year in the American Oaks and Del Mar Oaks, she would wait and wait and wait and make one move," trainer Laura de Seroux said. "Victor knows that Dublino is cat-like. He can move forward without taking away her turn of foot."

The Beverly Hills distance of 1 1/4 miles on turf suits both Dublino and Megahertz. At Santa Anita in April, Megahertz won the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap over that distance. In the Gamely, over 1 1/8 miles on turf, Megahertz was closing in the final furlong and was beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by stablemate Tates Creek. A 4-year-old, Megahertz is seeking her seventh stakes win on Saturday.

Voodoo Dancer is the lone shipper, but is a familiar starter in Southern California. Even though she is based in New York, the Beverly Hills is her fifth race in California in the last 13 months. She won the Grade 2 Palomar Handicap at Del Mar last September and has finished second or third in the other four races.