06/28/2007 11:00PM

Cayenne Red keeps rolling on Polytrack


CHICAGO - The all-weather racing surface appeared to be playing slow Wednesday afternoon at Arlington Park - until Cayenne Red took to the track. On a day when horses were having trouble cracking 1:12 for six furlongs, Cayenne Red traveled the distance in 1:10.86, winning a $35,000 claimer by 4 1/2 lengths and never appearing to turn a hair while doing it.

But that's nothing new: Cayenne Red is a Polytrack kingpin. In nine starts on Polytrack surfaces at Keeneland, Turfway, and Arlington, Cayenne Red has won seven times and finished third in another race.

"It looks like he's always been a nice horse, but the Polytrack, he just absolutely loves it," said Grant Hofmans, who has trained Cayenne Red since owner Kendall Hansen claimed the horse for $17,500 in November 2005.

Indeed, Cayenne Red, an Ohio-bred by Cat's Career - a horse Hofman's father David once trained - has been a prolific winner throughout his career, with victories in 17 of his 32 career starts. But as well as he's run on dirt, where he has 10 wins, Cayenne Red has been virtually unbeatable on Polytrack.

"Usually, the front-runners die on it, but when Larry Sterling rode him the first time at Arlington, he said it was like riding a rubber ball - the horse just bounces over it," Hofmans said.

Cayenne Red is a Polytrack-record holder at Turfway and on May 18 he turned in the fastest six furlongs run so far this year at Arlington. Cayenne Red won Wednesday for a $35,000 claiming tag, but it might be time for a class hike.

Lewis Michael, 'Anna' breeze

Owner Frank Calabrese's sibling stable stars both worked Thursday at Arlington, but though the works were vastly different, the future for both horses is the same: Undecided.

Lewis Michael, second last out in the Hanshin Cup, went five furlongs in 1:04.20, his first breeze since June 17.

"It was just a light breeze," trainer Wayne Catalano said. "I waited because it was so damn hot for a few days."

Dreaming of Anna also worked five furlongs, but she was timed in 1:00.20, third fastest of 28 works at the distance. Catalano said Dreaming of Anna got her final furlong in 11.40 seconds.

"She worked huge," Catalano said.

Catalano, Calabrese, and Calabrese's racing manager Steve Leving are in the midst of plotting Dreaming of Anna's upcoming schedule, but as of early Friday afternoon no specific plans had been laid.

Chillin Villain seeks rebound

For the first time this meet, Arlington's entry box has not been overflowing, but racing secretary Kevin Greely predicted a spell of slower entries when Arlington changed from a four- to five-day racing week last week. Seventy-nine horses raced on Wednesday's nine-race program, not bad, but many fewer per race than on Arlington's biggest days this year. Thursday's card has just 70 runners, and though 90 were entered to run Friday and 86 on Saturday, those days have 10-race cards. On Sunday, just 73 horses were entered in 10 races.

The featured ninth, a second-level allowance race restricted to Illinois-breds, drew only seven entries, but still looks hard to figure out. The first issue concerns Chillin Villain; namely, is the horse going to return sometime during his 3-year-old season to the best form he showed last year at 2?

Chillin Villain was a sharp winner of his first two starts last season, and when he was defeated in the fall, it was by Caruso, the best Illinois-bred one-turn 2-year-old of 2006. Chillin Villain hasn't run as well in his two starts this season, both fourth-place finishes over Arlington's Polytrack in races at Sunday's class level. Chillin Villain was favored both times, but much of the betting public may abandon him now.

If On Common Ground can run to his recent Arlington works, he would figure to have a strong chance for the Tom Amoss barn. On Common Ground hasn't raced since November, but has been breezing regularly at Arlington for the better part of two months.

John riding at Arlington

Kerwin John has joined the Arlington jockey colony. John has ridden only sparingly this year, winning 1 race from 10 mounts. John broke in during 2002, winning just two races that year, but had decent seasons riding in Southern California in 2004, when he won 50 races, and 2005, when he won 38.