06/24/2013 3:39PM

Arlington Park: Catalano looks to buck trends in Wednesday allowance


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – A few weeks ago, Arlington bettors might have taken Warbird or Night Patrol to the bank in the featured sixth race Wednesday. The simple reason: Wayne Catalano trains those horses, and for most of May and early June, Catalano won with about one out of every two of his Arlington runners, of which there were plenty.

A 50 percent win rate, of course, is unsustainable. During the last two racing weeks, Catalano merely has been good, going 6 for 22, and last week only 2 of his 10 starters won. Warbird and Night Patrol look a little different to handicappers now.

They are among 12 horses entered in the featured sixth, a second-level, 1 1/16-mile turf allowance also open to $40,000 claimers. The dozen make for 11 betting interests because of the coupled Louie Roussel entry of Dead On and Stunning Split.

The Roussel entry is favored on the morning line, which speaks to another Arlington trend: Favorites have been rising on grass and falling on Polytrack. Turf favorites have won at 40 percent for the meet, a percentage holding firm in recent weeks as Polytrack chalk has diminished. Polytrack favorites in the last racing week won only 25 percent of the time, and for the meet, that total has fallen to 29 percent.

Little wonder the betting public had some trouble wrapping its head around the main track last week. Last Wednesday was a slow-playing, off-the-pace day – something to consider again this Wednesday, since the week’s major track maintenance takes place Monday and Tuesday – with closers and stalkers winning five of the day’s six main-track races.

When racing resumed Friday, speed horses won six of nine Polytrack races. Throughout the week, though, closers fared well in two-turn main-track races, often at a price.

Catalano’s main rider, Channing Hill, was as hot as his primary client before going down with a shoulder injury two weeks ago, and in his absence, several jockeys have come on. Eddie Castro couldn’t buy a win the first few weeks of his Arlington tenure, but his eight winners in the last two weeks rank second only to Florent Geroux’s nine among Arlington riders.

It’s Geroux who gets the call Wednesday on the Catalano-trained Warbird. The 5-year-old Warbird was a struggling nonwinners-of-three claimer come May, but after narrowly clearing that condition, he won an open $20,000 claimer May 24 by six lengths, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure and a jump into the allowance class. Bettors should be skeptical of a repeat performance.

Catalano’s other runner, Night Patrol, will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, who has taken the lead in the jockeys’ standings since Hill went down. Night Patrol won his last but beat a ho-hum field in a race restricted to 3-year-olds, and he is drawn outside Wednesday.

Better to lean on the winning-turf-favorites trend Wednesday, as well as on James Graham, whose four wins last week tied for tops in the colony. Graham has a call on the Roussel entrants, with the rail-drawn Dead On looking particularly salty. Dead On lost by a head to stablemate Friendly Banter after making the stretch-call lead in a race at this class level May 15. This time, he might not be caught.

Trainer Bettis dies at 62

Veteran trainer Charlie Bettis died at 62 last Friday. Bettis carved out a decent niche as a head trainer in Chicago, but his glory days might have come as an assistant trainer. Bettis worked for Buddy Delp and with Spectacular Bid and was trainer Ernie Poulos’s right-hand man when Black Tie Affair came around.