03/05/2007 12:00AM

Frankel colt raw but talented

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Les Grands Trois's nine-length maiden win at Belmont Park last July tipped the colt as a potential star.

Owner Louis Mihalyka and trainer Bobby Frankel are still waiting for that to happen.

Les Grands Trois missed the rest of his 2-year-old season because of a bone chip in an ankle. The colt makes his second career start in a $50,000 allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Frankel is hopeful that Les Grands Trois can confirm the ability he showed last year.

"I don't think it was the strongest race, but it was a good number and he won easily," Frankel said. "He's got a good style; he doesn't need the lead."

Frankel does not see Wednesday's race as a Kentucky Derby prep, at least not yet.

"I don't think he's a Derby horse," Frankel said. "I'm not sure he wants to go that far. I'll know more after Wednesday."

Les Grands Trois has worked quickly at Hollywood Park in recent weeks, including a five-furlong bullet workout in 59.80 seconds on Feb. 5 and six furlongs in 1:12.80 on Feb. 25. Sunday, Les Grands Trois worked a half-mile from the gate in 50 seconds.

"I want to make sure he breaks," Frankel said of Sunday's work. "He's been going good enough."

Wednesday's race has drawn a field of eight 3-year-olds. None of the runners has placed in a stakes and three of them are coming off wins in maiden races. Aside from Les Grands Trois, Abalanche and Black Seventeen are coming off maiden wins.

Abalanche won a maiden race over 5 1/2 furlongs in his debut on Feb. 10. Trained by Rafael Becerra, Abalanche rallied from fifth to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Leading jockey Garrett Gomez was aboard for the win and retains the mount on Wednesday.

Black Seventeen is unraced since a stylish maiden win at Del Mar last summer. Trained by Brian Koriner, Black Seventeen has worked quickly at Hollywood Park, including five furlongs in 59.20 seconds last Thursday, the fastest of 34 works at the distance.

Because of his draw on the rail, and the style of his maiden win, Black Seventeen is likely to lead on Wednesday.

Can This Be True may be part of the pace. Trained by Glen Stute, Can This Be True beat maidens here over six furlongs on Jan. 1, but has been 11th and third in two subsequent starts.