10/17/2002 12:00AM

Chilly scenes of autumn at Cup site


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - With a chilly west wind blowing down an occasional flake of snow Thursday morning, Arlington Park moved into the final stage of its Breeders' Cup odyssey. While there were only a couple of major works, the number of Breeders' Cup horses on the grounds is increasing daily, and several were out on the racetrack for the first time Thursday.

The newcomers included Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Evening Attire, who arrived here from New York by van early Tuesday. Evening Attire schooled in the paddock just before 9 a.m. and was the first horse out onto a freshly groomed racetrack after Arlington's second renovation break of the morning. With an alert head and cocked ears, Evening Attire took in the new sights as he jogged a mile the "wrong" way, or clockwise, before heading back to his temporary quarters.

"Everything seems good with him," trainer Pat Kelly said. "He'll have a gallop tomorrow if the weather is okay."

While Evening Attire's morning went without a hitch, things turned chaotic just after he left the racetrack. Classic hopeful Macho Uno was just beginning his leisurely morning exercise and was going the wrong way at the finish line. In the other direction, Juvenile pre-entrant Zavata and a workmate were beginning a strong open gallop that would lead into a five-furlong work. And coming out onto the track from the gap at the one-mile marker was prospective Juvenile favorite Sky Mesa, making his first appearance on the Arlington track.

Just then, the loose-horse siren sounded, and a riderless horse came galloping and bucking around the clubhouse turn and into the stretch with outriders in hot pursuit. The Patrick Biancone-trained pair, including Zavata, clung to the inside and continued on their way without a pause, and, fortunately, assistant trainer Donna Ward still was leading Sky Mesa by a shank. She held on tight as Sky Mesa watched the loose horse steam past him, then continued walking the star colt on past the permanent grandstand after the runaway had been caught.

"I was glad I did have a hold of him," Ward said. "It gave me some options. Today, on the first day here, I led him up in front of the stands because he felt more secure with that. He liked to look at new things. He's a smart horse, and after he has a routine, not much bothers him."

Making a spectacular visual impression out on the racetrack, Sky Mesa had a spirited gallop of about 1 1/2 miles, his first exercise since a strong work Monday at Keeneland. He will have one more breeze sometime next week before the Juvenile.

Ward also has in her care here Hero's Tribute, who starts in the Black Tie Affair on the Breeders' Cup undercard.

As for the weather, the cold and clouds were to linger through Friday, but the daytime temperature is expected to warm to the high 50's this weekend.

G All Day heads feature

The parade of stakes racing begins here next Friday, but this weekend things remain quiet. Saturday's feature is an overnight handicap, called the Explosive Darling, for older statebreds at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

The vastly improved 5-year-old gelding G All Day heads the Explosive Darling, and if he runs back to a Sept. 26 optional claiming win here, G All Day probably will win his third straight start.

Owned by Carl Moore Management and trained by Brett Calhoun, G All Day managed only one win in nine starts last season, but during the Arlington meet he has made steady improvement. Third in a $50,000 claimer Aug. 4, G All Day won a third-level allowance in his next start before a breakthrough three-length victory three weeks ago.

Reno Rumble was second that day, but a return to Arlington this summer has breathed life into the 8-year-old Reno Rumble. He can turn the tables on G All Day with the right pace setup, while Major Omansky, beaten almost six lengths by G All Day, is at his best as the lone speed. Smilin Slew was in tougher when he finished seventh last out in the Sea O'Erin.

Cilio taking his time with Allspice

As the Breeders' Cup draws near, trainer Gene Cilio wonders what might have happened if his 2-year-old filly Allspice had not gotten sick in midsummer. A virus cost her valuable training time, and Allspice, a Jim Tafel homebred by Coronado's Quest, didn't make her career debut until Sept. 12, a race that turned out to be a wash because Allspice did not care for turf racing.

Dirt was a different thing. Racing at a mile on the main track here Oct. 3, Allspice showed good early speed and never slowed down, winning by 16 lengths in a fast time of 1:36.53. She ran straight and true through the stretch and looked like a filly with a big future.

"She might have made the Breeders' Cup if she hadn't gotten sick on me," Cilio said.

But with a late start, Cilio doesn't want to rush things, and Thursday he said Allspice probably would pass the $100,000 Eliza Stakes on Oct. 27. Cilio doesn't want to rush Allspice into stakes company now, and he also doesn't want to turn her back to seven furlongs, the Eliza's distance.

"There are so many nominations for that race, I'm hoping they'll put up an allowance race for her," Cilio said.

Meanwhile, Arlington Matron winner Lakenheath came out of her last-place finish in the Grade 1 Spinster in good shape. Lakenheath loves the Arlington racetrack, but Cilio said she didn't handle the Keeneland track surface. Lakenheath will point for stakes races at the Fair Grounds meet.

With 24 wins here, Cilio has put together a strong meet and currently ranks third in the trainer standings.