11/13/2003 1:00AM

Lion Heart takes the next step in Prevue


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Lion Heart is on the fast track. He was a fast winner of his debut last month at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, and he is fast becoming one of the leading prospects for next month's Hollywood Futurity.

The stepping-stone between the maiden win and the Grade 1 Futurity is Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Hollywood Prevue. The seven-furlong race will test Lion Heart's raw ability, and lack of experience, against the more experienced but less brilliant likes of Consecrate and Cooperation.

"He's running against horses with more experience," said Patrick Biancone, who trains Lion Heart. "After winning first time out, this is a big step."

Biancone believes, however, that Lion Heart is ready for it. He said Lion Heart could be one of the division's leaders by year's end.

"I think he could be one of the ones who can make it," Biancone said. "He has a lot of speed, but he has stamina, too, so he should be good. He graduated well, and this is the next step. The Futurity would be the natural next step after this. I think the headline on your story should be the 2-year-old colts are looking for a leader, and I'm hoping he is it."

Biancone thought Lion Heart would run well in his debut, but feared others in that race who also were making their debuts.

"I was expecting him to run well, but I was not expecting him to run as fast as he had to," Biancone said. Lion Heart prompted a 21.54-second opening quarter-mile before going on to win in 1:09.24 for six furlongs.

Seven 2-year-olds entered the Prevue, but the field could dwindle. Cosmic Glitter was found to have mucus in his airway after a workout on Tuesday, so his status is shaky.

There will be no more than six betting interests. Consecrate and Cooperation are an entry, since both are trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Jim McIngvale.

Consecrate and Cooperation have each won once in five starts. Both, according to Baffert, still are "sort of green."

"We worked Consecrate from behind horses the other day," Baffert said. "We're trying to teach him how to run."

Consecrate was fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in his last start.

Cooperation was fourth as the odds-on favorite in the Sunny Slope Stakes on Oct. 18. "He didn't break well," Baffert said. "He gets scared easy."

Voladero was a sharp second in the Sunny Slope. He has finished second in his last four starts, three of which were stakes.