08/20/2009 11:00PM

Calabrese gives Miller a boost


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - In his first 16 meets at Arlington Park, trainer Danny Miller averaged 4.3 winners per year. Back in 1996, he strung together eight victories here, and Miller matched that total again in 2008. And then along came Frank Calabrese.

Calabrese parted company with trainer Wayne Catalano over the winter at Gulfstream Park, and this Arlington summer, the Calabrese horses are split between trainers Nick Canani and Miller - and what a difference having a mega-owner can make. With five weeks or so still left in the Arlington 2009 season, Miller has already won 17 races, and that from only 50 starters. He has a good chance to pad that total in the featured eighth race Sunday.

Miller sends out It's Never to Late, a horse Calabrese gave him to train back in 2008. It's Never to Late, a game 4-year-old gelding, has won or placed in 9 of his 17 starts. In his only appearance at this meet. It's Never to Late cruised to an easy win while racing for a $40,000 claiming option in a July 2 race also open to second-level allowance horses. Sunday, he stretches out from a one-turn mile to two turns and 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack, and is given a highly positive class hike, running for a $62,500 tag in a race also open to third-level allowance horses.

There's nothing subtle about It's Never to Late's running style: He goes to the front, and tries to lead all the way. That meshes about perfectly with his rail draw on Sunday, and noted front-end rider E.T. Baird has been aboard for three of It's Never to Late's last four wins. He may only need to make the break in order to wire this field.

While owner Calabrese is enjoying his typically win-happy Arlington season, Catalano has landed on his feet, too, and enters the weekend's action atop the trainer standings with 32 victories. He also has a horse for the Sunday feature, Just Julian, who is scheduled to make his sixth start of the meet. Just Julian had two wins and a second earlier in the summer, but finished sixth two races back, and was a well-beaten second of seven at a lower class level in his most recent outing.

If logical contender Mr. Soul and/or longshot Dakota Rebel apply taxing pressure to It's Never to Late, Greycliff Exchange could benefit. In his only synthetic-track start here this summer, Greycliff Exchance finished second to Gran Estreno, who went on to win the Claiming Crown Jewel last month at Canterbury Park.