07/17/2001 11:00PM

Bad races offer good betting

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Wait around as long as you like during Friday's 10-race Arlington card. You will not see an open allowance race. A pair of allowance heats for Illinois-breds, carded as the seventh and the eighth, are the classiest fare on the program.

But if there is a lack of real quality here, both races seem eminently bettable, with large fields absent standout runners.

Rain forced turf races to the main track here Wednesday, and a chance of rain is forecast for Thursday, but the outlook for Friday is for clear, and grass racing may be salvaged. That would help keep basically intact the seventh race, a second-level turf allowance run at about nine furlongs that attracted a 12-horse field. The race is comprised mainly of horses with 20-plus starts who have struggled to make their way through allowance conditions. Horses with a shorter history of failure are preferred.

With 14 starts, Always Cool barely fits into that category, but the 4-year-old has run only five times since being claimed for $25,000 by owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano. Always Cool ran poorly facing open company at Fair Grounds and Gulfstream this winter and labored over a yielding turf course two races ago a Hawthorne, but his other two starts for Catalano-Calabrese, a win at Hawthorne and a good second here June 29, were fine.

Cool Dancer tried to rally into a slow pace in his most recent start, but there is more early speed in this spot. There's a rider change, too, from Mark Guidry to his hot rival, Rene Douglas. Calabrese split with Guidry earlier in the meet. "Mr. Calabrese just says he doesn't have any luck with Guidry," Catalano said. "It's as simple as that."

Guidry lands on the Tom Dorris-trained Movin to the Music, who finished 10th in his lone grass start.

Not Happening, off for 10 months before returning in a dirt allowance here June 21, probably was not at peak fitness for his comeback race.

The Gene Cilio barn should have the colt tighter for this start on turf, where he has performed well, twice finishing second on this grass course last summer.

Handicappers must decide whether Slide to Glory's four-length debut win here June 24 was as good as it appeared. If it was, the filly stands out in the eighth race, an entry-level allowance sprint for state-bred fillies and mares. Slide to Glory, owned by Team Block and trained by Chris Block, won easily, but did not finish fast and beat a nondescript maiden field.

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