04/11/2008 11:00PM

Campbell, Catalano start hot


STICKNEY, Ill. - There are at least two trainers having notably high-percentage meets with a limited number of starters at Hawthorne. One is Wayne Catalano, of whom such things are expected. For Mike Campbell, the Hawthorne spring meet is going especially well.

Through Friday, both Campbell and Catalano had won five races with limited starters here, and both have horses in Illinois-bred allowance races on Monday's program. Catalano starts the blowout maiden winner Rusty Bucket in race 7, an entry-level allowance, while Campbell has recent claim Cart'sforme in race 4, a second-level allowance.

Cart'sforme was claimed in mid-February for $6,250 at Fair Grounds, the same Fair Grounds where Campbell's stable struggled to gain traction. With a winter-long presence in New Orleans for the first time this year, Campbell won two Fair Grounds races from 33 tries, but the positive stuff came when the stock left Louisiana and wound up here at Hawthorne. Fourteen Campbell-trained horses have started so far this Hawthorne meet, and besides the five wins, Campbell has finished second or third with four others. Fair Grounds regulars have long extolled the benefits of the traditional dirt racetrack there; Campbell's record provides tangible evidence.

All that said, Cart'sforme is in kind of tough. Second in the race from which he was claimed, Cart'sforme has been in Chicago before, losing all three of his Hawthorne starts; last summer at Ellis Park, he ran for a lowly $4,000 claiming price. And there may be better horses in Monday's fourth.

Pineapple Joe was no match for runaway winner Must Trust racing in mud on March 21, but was beaten just a head at this class level and 1 1/16-mile distance on Jan. 3 and should improve Monday. The one to beat is Best Buddy, who comes off a 6 1/2-length victory, but has scored his two wins on wet tracks he clearly relished.

The wet-track question also pertains to Catalano's seventh-race entrant, Rusty Bucket. With 5 wins from 9 starters here this spring, Catalano clearly is sending live horses, and Rusty Bucket's 14-week layoff isn't forbidding. His five-length maiden win Dec. 22 came on a sloppy track, however, and he still has to show he can produce the same run on a dry surface.