09/11/2010 4:34PM

The Futurity winner? Catalano, of course

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Four-Footed Fotos
Major Gain (outside) moves to the lead in the Arlington-Washington Futurity.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Major Gain wasn’t quite ready to win a maiden race when he made his career debut a month ago, but he was ready to win the Arlington-Washington Futurity on Saturday at Arlington Park. No wonder. Wayne Catalano trains him.

Catalano won the Arlington-Washington Futurity last year with Dixie Band, and would have won it in 2008 had Jose Adan not been disqualified from first place. He had three horses in this year’s edition, but in Catalano’s mind, Major Gain, the only one of the trio without a win, was the one to watch.

“We thought this was the horse all along,” said Catalano, who trains Major Gain for Gary and Mary West, the colt’s breeders.

Major Gain ran decently in his 5 1/2- furlong debut. He showed more speed than he did Saturday and loomed at the top of the stretch like he would win, but Major Gain flattened out in the final half-furlong and was beaten by Caleb’s Posse, who also ran back in the Grade 3, $100,000 Futurity.

“I wasn’t surprised he got beat,” Catalano said, “just because you know how horse racing is. He was a little green first time. He came back and worked very, very well. I was excited about this race.”

Catalano had two others in the eight-horse Futurity, and Ghetto Cat pressed the early pace of Big Blue Caboose, with Weekend Wildcat also in the first flight. The leaders set quick splits of 22.97 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.10 to the half (Arlington’s Polytrack produced faster-than-par times Saturday because of overnight rain and cool weather) while racing with a tail-wind down the long backstretch run. Major Gain sat sixth or seventh to the far turn, where jockey Junior Alvarado began inching up between horses. Alvarado had Major Gain follow Quincy Hamilton as he moved Caleb’s Posse wide and to the lead at the top of the stretch. Rallying outside Caleb’s Posse, Major Gain surged to the lead past the eighth pole, and held clear a late rail run from favored Rough Sailing to win by one length. Rough Sailing nosed out Caleb’s Posse for second, with the winner clocking 1:36.36 for the one-turn mile.

Catalano said Major Gain, a son of More Than Ready out of the mare Dream Lady, would probably be pointed to the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.

“I’d like to keep him on the Polytrack for now,” Catalano said. 

Lassie has been good to Reavis

Mike Reavis took out his training license in 1977, and for the most part has run a claiming operation ever since - except when it comes to the Arlington-Washington Lassie.

Only 15 of more than 8,400 Reavis-trained starters have contested graded stakes, and until Wonderlandbynight scored 2 1/2- length victory in the Grade 3, $100,000 Lassie on Saturday, Reavis’s only win in such a race came with Shining Light. Who won Lassie in 1994.

Wonderlandbynight, a Sky Mesa filly, was bred by Reavis and was owned by Reavis until he sold her to Mark Dedomenico earlier this summer. Reavis owns the filly’s dam, Onemiracleatatime, and the yearling the mare produced in 2009.

Wonderlandbynight had to survive a claim of foul lodged by Junior Alvarado, who rode second-place Jordy Y. Wonderlandbynight came over a couple paths after taking the lead in midstretch, and Alvarado stood up in the irons, but the incident seemed minor, and the stewards agreed.

“I thought I was clear,” winning jockey E.T. Baird said.

Baird has ridden Wonderlandbynight throughout an unusual four-start history. She finished second in her debut here June 4, but by the time the winner was disqualified for a positive drug test Wonderlandbynight had knocked out a maiden win all on her own. Thus, she is a rare two-time maiden winner.

More importantly, Wonderlandbynight already has displayed an amazing range of skills. She made two moves between horses when she finished second in her debut, Baird said, then led all the way in her June 27 race.

“I kind of let her rip that day,” Baird said. “I let her get it on.”

But in winning the Ontario Debutante on Aug. 14 at Woodbine, Wonderlandbynight raced last of five early in the race, making a quick move on the way to victory. Saturday, she was 12th of 13 a half-mile into the Lassie as Songofthecity led Edie and Tellme All Aboutit through a fast pace, 22.17 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.17 to the half. Hung wide around the far turn, Wonderlandbynight moved up quickly, reaching contention at the top of the stretch. Jordy Y, who had rallied between horses, floated her out at the top of the stretch before Wonderlandbynight drifted rail-ward once in front.

“She likes what she’s doing, and she has no fear,” said Baird.

Third Chance held well, considering her close attendance to the fast early pace, and finished third, followed by 3-1 favorite Honey Chile, who was getting out, jockey Michael Baze said. The winner paid $8.80, and was timed in 1:36.65 for one mile on Polytrack.