07/29/2002 12:00AM

Lukas fears Heart Of a Champion


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Trainer D. Wayne Lukas took a quick look at the past performances for Wednesday's $47,000 allowance feature at Saratoga and didn't hesitate pinpointing the horse he felt his Beautiful Treasure had to beat.

"That's a pretty good filly [trainer] Bobby Hess has in there," Lukas said, referring to Heart Ofa Champion, who like Beautiful Treasure, returns to the allowance ranks after being no match for Mike's Wildcat in Belmont Park's Astoria Stakes on June 30.

"I don't know what happened to her in the stakes, but she sure was very impressive when she won her maiden," Lukas said. "Seasoning is a big advantage for a 2-year-old at this time of year, and coming out of the stakes these two fillies look like the ones to beat in this race."

Beautiful Treasure finished second, beaten eight lengths by Mike's Wildcat in the Astoria, after winning her maiden while equipped with blinkers for the first time two weeks earlier at Churchill Downs. Heart Ofa Champion was a tiring sixth after chasing Mike's Wildcat into the stretch of the Astoria. She was a 5 1/4-length winner in maiden special company in her previous start.

"I actually think my filly will be better when she goes two turns," said Lukas, who trains Beautiful Treasure for Bob and Beverly Lewis. "But it looks like there may be enough speed in this race where we could conceivably be in a good spot running from off the pace."

Jorge Chavez, who rode Beautiful Treasure in the Astoria, has the return call. Pat Day picks up the mount on Heart Ofa Champion.

Three fillies who showed high speed winning their career debuts - Make Out, Spinning Wind, and Carson Cove - are among the runners Lukas hopes will create a lively pace, along with Heart Ofa Champion, in the entry-level allowance feature at 5 1/2 furlongs for 2-year-old fillies. The late-running Behrnik, and Boston Storm, round out the starting lineup in a race that might serve as a prep for the Adirondack Stakes on Aug. 12.

Trainer Linda Rice admits that a lack of seasoning could work against Make Out, a daughter of Out of Place who won her career debut by 2 1/2 lengths at Belmont this month. Her owners, the Trackmen Golf Club Stable, sold a half interest in Make Out to the Golden Dome Stable after that victory.

"She has always showed quite a bit of promise, but this is obviously a big step up for her," said Rice. "I'm optimistic she'll turn in another big effort."

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