10/06/2002 11:00PM

The Cup horses are coming! The Cup horses are coming!


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Breeders' Cup horses are trickling into Arlington, with two Sprint candidates, including Xtra Heat, now on the grounds.

Xtra Heat arrived Sunday from Keeneland, where she gallantly won the Phoenix Breeders' Cup on Saturday. She's bedded down in a deserted shed row on the Arlington backstretch and will get her first look at the Arlington track surface either on Wednesday or Thursday, trainer John Salzman said.

Salzman will be in town from now until the Breeders' Cup Sprint to supervise Xtra Heat's training, and he said Monday that he expected his filly would gallop up to the race without a breeze.

"At this point I don't think that she'd work," Salzman said. "Three weeks between races is pretty close. I just don't think that I need to work her."

Salzman said Xtra Heat came back from the Phoenix in good shape, but slightly tired. "She tries so hard that it takes something out of her, but she bounces back quick," he said. "She was lying down early Sunday morning, which is not unusual, but this morning in the cold air she was bouncing around."

Xtra Heat was accompanied here by the 2-year-old Dr. Phil, who starts Saturday in the $75,000 Manila.

A barn away from Xtra Heat, Bonapaw is bedded down in an equally deserted row of stalls, galloping his way toward a Monday work that will serve as his major preparation for the Sprint. Bonapaw, twice a stakes winner at this meet, shipped back to Arlington shortly after he won the Grade 1 Vosburgh on Sept. 21 at Belmont.

Fraulein, who is being pointed to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare turf after winning the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine, arrived at Arlington this past weekend, while several horses for trainer Patrick Biancone shipped here Monday.

There is plenty of room for Breeders' Cup horses on the Arlington backstretch, as track officials estimate about 600 stalls currently are empty. Between 200 and 250 horses are expected in for the Breeders' Cup.

Douglas takes some away time

Jockey Rene Douglas spent this past weekend riding stakes horses at Keeneland and Woodbine and will remain out of town until Thursday. On Wednesday, Douglas is booked to ride Take the Cake in the Raven Run Stakes at Keeneland.

Douglas can afford to miss a few mounts at Arlington. An easy winner of the riding title here last season, Douglas opened up a huge lead in the standings in midsummer of this meet and widened his advantage as the meet wore on. Through last week's racing, Douglas held a 71-win lead - 151 to 80 - over his nearest pursuer, Elvis Trujillo. Douglas has won races at nearly a 27 percent clip, and his mounts have earned nearly $4.6 million at the meet.

Chasing records

Meanwhile, owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano are making serious runs at Arlington records for wins at a meet. Through Sunday, Calabrese had won 55 races, putting him seven wins behind Irish Acres Farm, which won 62 times during the 1991 season. Catalano, Calabrese's private trainer, has saddled 53 winners, nine fewer than the record Noel Hickey established when training the Irish Acres horses in 1991.

Calabrese and Catalano have three horses entered on Wednesday's card, all of whom have a good chance of winning. Restless Sound comes back only four days after a win here, but Catalano is proficient with horses running on short rest. Recent claim Cauy makes her first start for Catalano-Calabrese in the sixth, a second-level allowance, while Cozy Fellow is the horse to beat in the seventh, a 2-year-old maiden claimer, provided he starts. Cozy Fellow, Catalano said, could be scratched from the race.

Carey next for Mystery Giver

Mystery Giver, winner of the Sea O' Erin here Sept. 29, is likely to make his next start in the Carey Memorial on opening weekend at Hawthorne Race Course, trainer Chris Block said. Block had considered a Breeders' Cup undercard stakes for Mystery Giver, but wants his colt to have a little more time between starts.

"He ran so well when he won at Hawthorne last fall," Block said.

Block also hopes Mystery Giver will be the Illinois invitee to the Great State Challenge at Sam Houston Race Course, where he could run in a rich grass race later this fall.

It's Aesthete Approval's turn

A third-level filly and mare turf allowance with a $65,000 claiming option highlights Wednesday's nine-race card. Several of these same horses have been butting heads for most of this meet, with Aesthete Approval perhaps poised to take her turn in the spotlight.

Rained off grass in a Sept. 19 start, Aesthete Approval has twice finished second and once been third at this class level, and with an honest pace in front of her can close for an overdue victory on Wednesday.