08/21/2003 12:00AM

Cactus Ridge back home


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Cactus Ridge, one of the fastest 2-year-olds in the country, has returned to Arlington Park and is on course for a start in the Arlington-Washington Futurity here Sept. 27.

Sunday, Cactus Ridge won the $100,000 Ellis Park Juvenile by 6 1/2 lengths. His work in Henderson, Ky., done, Cactus Ridge boarded a horse van and rode back to Arlington on Sunday night.

"It was hot, and he was a little bit tired coming back," trainer Bret Calhoun said Thursday, "but he was raising hell again when we took him back to the track. He seems fine."

Cactus Ridge has won the first three starts of his career, and he's still looking for a challenge. None came Sunday, when Cactus Ridge zipped out to an early lead, set a wicked pace, and was never challenged. He earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure after receiving a 100 for his second win, in a minor Canterbury stakes.

But Cactus Ridge, a Hennessy colt owned by Dream Walkin' Farms, is not a pure speed horse in Calhoun's mind. "I didn't even expect him to be on the lead Sunday," he said. "I told [jockey Eddie Martin] that somebody would probably send, but he broke good, and that's just how fast he is. He was doing it easily."

The Arlington-Washington Futurity is contested at a one-turn mile, but Calhoun doesn't see distance as an issue. Cactus Ridge's speed, he thinks, can be effective at any trip, as long as he continues to relax when he runs.

"To see him train in the morning, there's not much you could do to have him relax more," Calhoun said.

Rebridled Dreams getting serious

Thursday morning, Calhoun looked on as Rebridled Dreams had her first serious breeze of the summer, working five furlongs in 1:01.60. Rebridled Dreams, who is coming back from a fractured hind ankle, had gotten up to five furlongs in her breezes, but Thursday "was the first time we let her do anything," Calhoun said.

Rebridled Dreams, who began her racing career here last summer, finished third in the Grade 3 Silverbulletday and fourth in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks late last winter, but she emerged from her last race with an unusual hind-leg fracture. Ankle fractures are common enough in racehorses, but they usually occur in front legs.

"We were lucky we even found it," Calhoun said. "You couldn't really see much from her training."

Rebridled Dreams had a screw surgically inserted in her leg, but she appears to have come back well from her injury. Though she ran in stakes races early this year, Rebridled Dreams has allowance conditions remaining, and Calhoun is likely to bring her back in that type of race.

Cat's Cat may get her turn

Cat's Cat has worked hard and run fast in her last two starts. What she has to show for them is a pair of second-place finishes, and how often do folks remember the losers?

Her turn may come Saturday in the Hatoof, an overnight turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies that serves as the co-feature to the Arlington Sprint.

There are no horses here as good as Hatoof, the wonderful French-based mare who won the 1994 Beverly D. Stakes, but the field of 11, including one main-track-only entrant, is solid. Cat's Cat heads the lineup, figuratively and - quite likely - literally, as she will probably be on the lead. Cat's Cat has plenty of rateable route pace, and if allowed to dictate fractions Saturday, she will be difficult to catch.

* Arlington patrons and bettors can now view complete stewards-review replays on in-house television and the track's simulcast feed. Previously, Arlington made available selected stewards views on its simulcast feed while reserving one in-house channel for complete stewards views.