10/31/2003 12:00AM

Catalano keeps opposition guessing


CHICAGO - Prairie Slam may have run into his ceiling in his last start. My Calabrese hasn't been running at all. One of them - the guessing game is on - could wind up in the winner's circle after the eighth race on Sunday at Hawthorne Race Course.

The eighth isn't the highest-level race on Sunday's card, but it is the best one. The opener is for third-level allowance horses, but it drew a nondescript field of six fillies and mares. By contrast, this second-level allowance, at 6 1/2 furlongs, has a competitive field of 11 - an excellent betting race.

The first thing to sort out is which part of the Frank Calabrese-owned, Wayne Catalano-trained entry of Prairie Slam and My Calabrese will start. Eddie Martin was named to ride both, so one must come out. Catalano often employs this tactic; it adds a layer of complexity the opposition must puzzle through, and it lets him look at the race to see which one of his horses best belongs.

"I don't know which one will start," Catalano said Friday, while hinting Prairie Slam could wind up in a route race sometime soon. "They're both doing good. They both need to run. Either one of them is going to be tough."

Prairie Slam had looked strong winning consecutive races at the Arlington meet, but was third in a second-level, one-mile allowance there on Sept. 24. "I think he ran a good race last time," said Catalano. "He was still running at the end, but he just got beat."

My Calabrese, who won his maiden by five lengths here last spring, has not been out since July, but is more of a pure sprinter and has worked three times over the racetrack.

Other contenders are Without a Doubt, who won a first-level allowance race well in his most recent start, and Gracious Humor, who ran second at this class level in his last race.

Catalano headed to Gulfstream

Catalano said he expects to spend this winter at Gulfstream Park, where his stable was located for part of the winter two seasons ago. Last season, Catalano had a significant presence at Fair Grounds, where his only client, Frank Calabrese, won the owners' title. Catalano, a native of New Orleans, said he had applied for stalls at Fair Grounds but wound up turning them down.

"They called and said they needed to know, and I told them I wasn't coming," Catalano said.

Catalano said he has 22 stalls reserved at Gulfstream. "I'm liking Gulfstream," he said, adding that if Calabrese wants to add horses to his stable,"he can get them down there. We're a claiming outfit, and we can claim."

Silver Crown holds promise

The owner Russell Reineman and trainer Bobby Springer - War Emblem's original connections - have come up with another promising young horse, Silver Crown, who won a first-level, 2-year-old allowance race Oct. 21 at Keeneland by 1 1/2 lengths.

"She could be anything," Springer said Friday, en route from Chicago to his winter quarters in New Orleans.

That's the same route Silver Crown, a homebred by Distorted Humor, will travel Tuesday, but Springer has not decided where she will start next. Springer ruled out the Golden Rod at Churchill, but said stakes races at Fair Grounds and Delta, as well as second-level, two-turn Fair Grounds allowance race are under consideration.