10/03/2004 11:00PM

Gold Cup result has Freefourinternet up, Perfect Drift down

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CHICAGO - One and three-quarter lengths separated Freefourinternet and Perfect Drift at the finish of Saturday's . Monday, they were a few miles apart, with Freefourinternet bedded down in his Churchill Downs stall, and Perfect Drift back home at the Trackside Training Center, also in Louisville, Ky. It's possible the pair will meet again at the end of the month in Texas, since both still are being considered for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Perfect Drift might have lost the Gold Cup, but he was the race's heavy favorite and is by far the more accomplished of the two horses. Nevertheless, it was Freefourinternet's trainer, Mike Maker, who sounded more enthusiastic Monday about a trip to Lone Star Park for the Breeders' Cup. Murray Johnson, trainer of Perfect Drift, is just trying to figure out how he can get his horse a win this year. After Saturday's surprising defeat at odds of 1-2, Perfect Drift is 0-7 this year.

"The owner was quite disappointed," Johnson said, referring to William Reed. "They want to know what it's going to take to get a win. He's a little fed up with it all. It's been very frustrating."

Pat Day is Perfect Drift's regular rider, and he rode him Saturday, but Johnson and Reed had a vigorous five-minute conversation with Day on the racetrack after he dismounted Perfect Drift.

"We weren't very happy with [the ride], that's for sure," Johnson said.

Perfect Drift pressed the pace of Quest Star and Powerful Touch for much of the Gold Cup and easily made the lead at the top of the stretch. Freefourinternet, closing from last, ran past him in the final furlong, but Perfect Drift seemed to be coming back at the finish.

"He didn't come back like a spent horse," said Johnson.

Neither did Freefourinternet, who will return to the track Wednesday, Maker said. Ridden by the struggling jockey Greta Kuntzweiler, Freefourinternet trailed the leaders by about 25 lengths on Hawthorne's backstretch, but came home with a flourish for the most important win of his career.

"We're going to take a look at the Classic," Maker said. "If it doesn't come up to our liking, then we'll find something else."

Catalano, Calabrese back together?

The $25,000 claim of a horse named Connywithay on Saturday might have ushered in a new era of the Frank Calabrese-Wayne Catalano association. Catalano and Calabrese, the highly successful owner-trainer combination, split last winter, but they seemed to be on increasingly friendly terms as Arlington's meet wore on through the summer. And in Saturday's fourth race, Catalano was listed as the new trainer of Connywithay, whom Calabrese claimed out of a last-place finish.

Catalano, who was in Kentucky on Monday, said he had no finalized plans to take over Calabrese's stable, but acknowledged the two were working on some kind of arrangement.

"I'm not going to be private for him," Catalano said.

When the pair split up in February, Calabrese began using Pat Cuccurullo as his private trainer, and both won titles at the National Jockey Club at Hawthorne spring meet. But by July, Cuccurullo was out and Jodie Sinclair was in. Sinclair, who had been working as an assistant trainer at Canterbury Park, has been steering the ship since, but Calabrese's powerhouse stable has had a relatively quiet couple of months.

Meanwhile, Catalano hooked on with Turf Express Inc., whose principal, Mark Cornett, is based in Texas. Catalano had strings of Turf Express horses at Mountaineer Park and at Arlington, but said Monday he was down to just a few horses for that outfit.

But one of them, Tamweel, was the reason Catalano spent Sunday night and part of Monday in Kentucky. He traveled there in order to ride Tamweel in a Monday workout at Keeneland, where she is scheduled to start this weekend in the Grade 1 Spinster. Tamweel went five furlongs in 1:00, the fastest of 15 works at the distance.

Feature race draws big field

Hawthorne Race Course might lack beauty and grandeur, but this track can fill a horse race. Wednesday's featured eighth is a third-level filly-and-mare sprint allowance with a $35,000 claiming option, the kind of race that usually gets something like seven or eight entrants. Here, there are 12, and the race is knotted with possibilities.

Just three of the horses were entered under the claiming option, and there are stakes and open handicap droppers to go with the aspiring claimers. Perhaps the fastest of them is Bold Bayou Baby, who beat another Wednesday starter, Rich City Girl, in a second-level allowance race here in the spring. Bold Bayou Baby, trained by Spanky Broussard, hasn't raced since June 6, when she flopped in an Arlington overnight handicap, but two of her three career wins have come after a layoff.

But to win, Bold Bayou Baby must not only return sharp, she must also overcome an outside draw and, perhaps, a fast pace. There is speed here to set up a closer like Ravalli Girl, who might save ground from her rail draw and finish with a bang. Fighting Fever and Bad Kitty also may fit the shape of the race.