08/03/2003 11:00PM

Both halves of Catalano entry look formidable


CHICAGO - Whichever way they choose to go, Frank Calabrese and Wayne Catalano are locked on to Arlington's Wednesday feature, and they should even have their choice rider in the irons.

Catalano loves to enter two horses in races at Arlington. It's another layer of camouflage in the claiming game, extra information to ponder, and in allowance races it gives Catalano options. He put two in Wednesday's eighth race, a third-level, six-furlong allowance with a $62,500 claiming option, and as of Monday morning, Catalano claimed not to have decided whether Halo's Tiger or Ajedrez will start.

"We'll run one Wednesday, and there's a three-other-than at a mile on Sunday, and the other one will run there," he said.

Rene Douglas was named on both halves of the entry and, according to his agent, Dennis Cooper, is likely to ride. Douglas took off all his mounts Sunday, complaining of pain in his neck and shoulder. Douglas told Cooper he had begun to feel better Monday morning, and he is scheduled to return to action Wednesday.

In the Argentine import Ajedrez, Catalano and his owner, Calabrese, have a rising star. Ajedrez, a 4-year-old, won one of five starts last year in Argentina but is 2 for 2 since resuming his career in Illinois this summer. Ajedrez effortlessly won a first-level allowance here June 29 and easily disposed of second-level allowance horses about three weeks ago. The last race was at a mile, and Ajedrez contested the pace before drawing away, but Catalano would prefer to see his horse rating and rallying, as he did in his U.S. debut.

"The other day he wanted to get too anxious," Catalano said. "Going short, he'll probably settle in and they'll run away from him. There wasn't enough pace last time."

With at least three speed horses in Wednesday's race, Ajedrez will get the trip he needs and is likely to roll to his third straight win. And if not him, then Halo's Tiger, whom Calabrese claimed for $60,000 out of his last start.

"He looks good and he trains good. What more can you want?" Catalano said. "Hey, he was second to Mineshaft this year, so what the heck."

Voodoo Dancer coming to Beverly D.

Until a few days ago, Voodoo Dancer was another piece in an intriguing Beverly D. puzzle. Now, she may be the star of the show.

Trainer Christophe Clement confirmed Monday that Voodoo Dancer, winner of the Grade 1 Diana in her last start, is bound for the Beverly D. And with the retirement of Golden Apples and the injury to Ipi Tombe, Voodoo Dancer may have become the Beverly D. favorite.

Clement said that Corey Nakatani would ride Voodoo Dancer, and that he also was sending Rouvres to start in the Arlington Million.

While the Beverly D. has taken some hits, the core of the Million is holding strong. Expected to start are North American horses Honor in War, Perfect Drift, Perfect Soul, Storming Home, and The Tin Man. There are six Europeans considered probable for the race, a contingent headed by Paolini, a troubled sixth in last year's Million.

Mister Acpen and Kudos, both California-based horses, remain possible starters.

Singapore Plate takes shape

Before Million Day comes the Singapore Plate for 3-year-old fillies this weekend, and that race has taken shape in the past few days.

Sue's Good News may be the most talented horse in the Singapore Plate, a Grade 3 at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, but she comes off a lackluster effort at Delaware Park, and perhaps eight horses will oppose her here Saturday.

Among them is Keeping the Gold, an Illinois-bred filly who would jump into open company if the partnership that owns her elects to run.

"We haven't decided absolutely for sure," said trainer Chris Block, "but there's a good chance we'll be in there."

Keeping the Gold has developed nicely this summer for Block, and she emphatically won a statebred stakes race here June 21 in her last start. Working Saturday, Keeping the Gold turned in a typically solid move, and Block feels the time may be ripe for a shot in a graded race.

"Her work was what I wanted to see," he said. "The question with her is can she get the one and an eighth miles at two turns. Last year, she didn't, but we were playing catch-up with her and it wasn't a fair evaluation."

Cashel Castle works up a storm

Block had another stakes horse work this weekend: Cashel Castle, who blazed through six furlongs Sunday in 1:12.80, faster than many races at Arlington. Cashel Castle hurt himself last spring and hasn't raced in more than a year, but the major work showed he's nearing a race.

"It wasn't planned that way," said Block. "He caught a horse about an eighth of a mile in front of him. He was going at a pretty good pace himself, and when I saw that other horse, I could see he was going to go after him. I'll say this: he got something out of that work. He drank a bucket of water. I'd say he came back out of it okay."