10/19/2005 11:00PM

Flashy win earns Amon class hike


CHICAGO - Wayne Catalano has a wagonload of earthy sayings, enunciated in the distinctive cadence and accent he acquired growing up in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

One of them is, "He run out the screen," as in, a horse drew off to lead by so much that a camera operator following the race's action left the horse in front to pan back to the battle for second and third place. Get it? The horse ran out of the screen.

Well, Amon pretty much "ran out the screen" on Oct. 1 at Hawthorne. Claimed by owner Frank Calabrese for just $14,000 on July 4 at Arlington, Amon has won 3 of 4 starts since moving to the Catalano barn. Two times he scored in $18,000 claimers, and in that Oct. 1 race, a $25,000 turf claimer, Amon stalked in fourth place, took the lead turning for home, and cruised to a 6 1/4-length score.

That's a huge margin for a grass race, and it's a big part of the reason Amon is being given a serious class hike: Catalano entered him in Saturday's featured third race, a third-level turf allowance with a $35,000 claiming tag. Carded at 1 1/8 miles, the race drew only seven turf entries, with Marion's Man entered main-track-only by trainer Mike Reavis.

Amon has come to hand quickly, and very often claiming horses like this go down as quickly as they come up. But Amon does not need to run any faster than he did in his recent win over lesser competition in order to triumph again Saturday. A repeat of the effort would suffice, since there is no similarly sharp horse of inherently higher class entered against him in Saturday's third.

There is, however, a horse from trainer Roger Brueggeman, who has made a habit of regularly winning races at Hawthorne the last couple of years. Brueggeman is in the midst of another nice run, which is why Le Jester merits an extra look. He just finished third in a race at this same class level and would have an added edge should the race be rained onto the main track, where Le Jester is a three-time winner.

El Condor also deserves a mention - though not off his most recent start, a ninth-place finish. El Condor might have been a short horse that day and has been a reliable grass horse on this circuit for a couple of seasons, though he favors second-place finishes to wins: In 28 career starts, he has 3 wins and 9 seconds.

Not, in other words, the kind of horse who would ever "run out the screen."