11/18/2003 1:00AM

Biancone: Don't overlook Lion Heart


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - It may be too late for Lion Heart to be named champion 2-year-old, but trainer Patrick Biancone said Eclipse Award voters should hold onto their ballots until after the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 20.

"Two-year-old of the year is for the best horse," Biancone said, noting that "everybody looks at the Beyers, so I would say [Lion Heart] has as much of a chance as any."

An Eclipse may be wishful thinking, but Lion Heart's brilliant victory last Saturday under Mike Smith in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue stamped the colt as the overwhelming favorite for the Futurity.

By Tale of the Cat, Lion Heart won the seven-furlong Prevue by six lengths in a stakes-record 1:20.63, earning a 102 Beyer Figure that establishes him as one of the fastest of his generation. More so, Biancone was impressed with the manner the win was accomplished. "It's not like he went 21, 43, with no kick at the end," Biancone said.

Lion Heart set the pace through an opening quarter-mile in 22.28 seconds, followed by a second quarter in 22.43, a third quarter in 23.63, and a final furlong in 12.29. "What I like is, he's very steady," the trainer said.

The Hollywood Park track produced lightning-fast times Saturday. Four races before Lion Heart, the six-furlong track record of 1:07.52 was equaled in a two-other-than allowance by Tough Game. Still, a second stakes win by Lion Heart in the 1 1/16-mile Futurity would establish him as the leading California-based candidate for the 2004 spring classics.

"Until you run them two turns, you don't know if they can do it," Biancone said.

Bayakoa likely next for Adoration

Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Adoration will work out on the Hollywood Park turf course Thursday, but trainer David Hofmans said she is likely to continue racing on the main track.

Hofmans said he is primarily considering the Bayakoa, a Grade 2 race on dirt Dec. 7, with a small possibility of running her in the Nov. 30 Matriarch, a Grade 1 turf race.

Hofmans said that Adoration, a 4-year-old filly owned by John Amerman, will race next year.

Adoration won the Grade 3 Senorita on the Hollywood turf course as a 3-year-old, which was her only win on turf in four attempts. Adoration's front-running style is more effective on dirt, yet Hofmans will keep his options open regarding the Matriarch.

"We'll see how she handles the turf," he said about the work, adding a possible start in the Matriarch would depend on the size of the field and the pace scenario.

Adoration's early-season goal for 2004 includes the Grade 1 Santa Maria and Santa Margarita handicaps at Santa Anita on Feb. 16 and March 14.

"She likes the track, and we don't have to ship," he said.

Got Koko's 2004 schedule plotted

The principal competition for Adoration this winter may be Distaff third-place finisher Got Koko. Trainer Bruce Headley has planned a six-race campaign for Got Koko that would culminate in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park. Got Koko will make her

2004 debut going seven furlongs in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap on Jan. 25, followed by the Santa Maria and Santa Margarita. Headley said Got Koko would get the summer off, then follow the same campaign as this year - one start at Del Mar, one at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meet, and the Breeders' Cup.

Headley's California Cup Matron winner Royally Chosen worked five furlongs Tuesday at Santa Anita in 1:05, and will race Jan. 24 in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park. Royally Chosen, runner-up in a Grade 1 stakes and a Grade 2 stakes, had been off for 18 months prior to her August comeback.

"It proves that when you give a horse time, they can come back at the same level," Headley said. "Instead of being ruined [by over-racing], she's coming back full of life. It's not a bad idea to rest a horse."

Sticking with Cal-bred competition

Although the Hollywood Futurity and Hollywood Starlet are likely to have small fields, two leading California-breds are expected to skip the Grade 1 races and aim for $125,000 Cal-bred sprints early in the Santa Anita meet.

Trainer Jim Cassidy said California Cup Juvenile winner He's the Rage would be aimed for the seven-furlong California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Dec. 26, opening day of the Santa Anita meet. "I overtaxed him a little bit, and want to give him every chance," Cassidy said.

He's the Rage won the 1 1/16-mile Cal Cup in his second career start, which was only three weeks after debut.

The 2-year-old filly Silent Sighs, originally being targeted for the Starlet, is another who may skip the meet, according to trainer Julio Canani. He would prefer to run Silent Sighs in the filly division of the Cal Breeders' on Dec. 27 "and then see what we have," the trainer said.

Silent Sighs finished second in the Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies in just her second career start.