Lion Heart's Romp 'Prevue' of Things to Come

(from Hollywood Park report)
Lion Heart, a $1.4-million purchase, toyed with four rivals en route to a six-length victory in stakes record time under jockey Mike Smith in Saturday's $100,000 Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-olds.

Lion Heart, who covered seven furlongs in 1:20 3/5, won for the second time in two career starts. The odds-on choice, he paid $3 and $2.20. Cooperation, coupled with fourth-place finisher Consecrate, paid $2.20. There was no show wagering with the late scratches of Cosmic Glitter and Skipaslew.

The Prevue, a prep for the prestigious Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) on Dec. 20, proved to be a showcase for the lightly-raced Lion Heart. He broke on top, easily turned back a challenge from Voladero heading into the far turn, and drew away with ease in the stretch.

"I think this horse spoke for himself out there," said Smith, who rode three winners on the program. "What I like about him just as much as his ability is his disposition . . . his attitude. Man, he acts like he's five years old. He went out there like he owned the place. He went into the gate and never turned a hair, then he just waits for you to call on him.

"He's just naturally quick so he puts you where he wants to be. Then he waits for your call, and I never got to all his gears. This is really an impressive colt. I hate to get too high on one early, but if you're ever going to, this is one that you should."

Lion Heart, owned by Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, was the sale topper at the Fasig Tipton auction in February. The victory, worth $60,000, boosted his earnings to $85,200.

"I said all the time the best horse I've trained was Sagace, and he was very much like that," winning trainer Patrick Biancone said. "Faster. Today was a big step for this horse. I told Mike to just ride him like a baby champion and do what you need to do. Mike gave him a perfect ride.

"I was a little concerned because he was wide coming out of the turn," he added. "Mike said he did that on purpose because the track was better, it was a jockey choice, nothing to do with the horse."

Trainer Bobby Frankel, meanwhile, moved to within one victory of equaling Charlie Whittingham's Hollywood Park record of 859 victories. Frankel saddled three winners and has two horses entered Sunday. Whittingham, who died in 1999, has been Hollywood Park's leader since surpassing Farrell Jones in 1979.

Victor Espinoza also continued his winning streak, enjoying his fourth consecutive multiple-win day with a pair of winners. Espinoza leads the jockeys' standings with 10 victories. His second victory came aboard Kristin Mulhall trainee Tough Game, who equaled the track record of 1:07.52 for six furlongs.

(Chart, Equibase)