04/02/2003 12:00AM

Little Treasure big shot


SAN MATEO, Calif. - This is a weekend of comebacks for trainer Laura de Seroux.

She has Horse of the Year Azeri set for her 2003 debut in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on Saturday. On Sunday, Ballingarry makes his 2003 debut in the Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita.

De Seroux has a third stakes star making her 2003 debut this weekend - Little Treasure in the $75,000-added Miss America Handicap at Bay Meadows. A stakes winner in her native France and the United States, Little Treasure will be the 119-pound highweight and likely favorite in Saturday's 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares over the turf.

Trainers Ron McAnally and Jerry Fanning said Wednesday that their horses Gabriellina Giof and La Duncan, respectively, were going to run in the Miss America, bringing the likely number of runners to nine. Locally based Lindsay Jean, Lost at Sea, Thunder and Rain, and Aunt Sophie are expected to run, as are Keys to the Heart and Bush Triumph.

De Seroux's husband, Emmanuel, discovered Little Treasure in France last spring. She was purchased after winning the listed Prix de Bagatelle.

"My husband was there at the time, and that's his specialty," de Seroux said. "She showed good form, tactical speed, and didn't have to run covered up like some Europeans."

Little Treasure won the Grade 2 San Clemente on Aug. 3 at Del Mar in her U.S. debut. She then won the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park on Sept. 14. After leading through the opening half-mile in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland on Oct. 12, Little Treasure faded to last.

Saturday she makes her first start since.

"She wasn't injured," de Seroux said. "She had traveled a lot so it was good to give her some time off."

De Seroux calls Little Treasure's Queen Elizabeth effort a throw-out.

"It had rained and rained and rained, and the course was knee deep," she said.

There was rain Wednesday at Bay Meadows, and the opening-day turf races were switched to the main track, but by Saturday the turf course probably will not resemble the bog Little Treasure faced at Keeneland.

"We're in uncharted waters coming back from a layoff," de Seroux said, "but she looks good, looks fit, and looks ready to go."

Venture Cat one to beat

Venture Cat, first and third in his two tries around two turns, is the one to beat in Friday's feature, a $25,000 claimer for 3-year-olds at one mile.

Venture Cat won a $12,500 claimer stretching out to a mile for the first time. He was claimed that day, but was reclaimed by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer from his next start.