07/01/2002 11:00PM

Golden Antigua an old-fashioned sort

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CHICAGO - Three years, 36 starts and half a world away from the beginning of her racing career, Golden Antigua has moved into her halcyon days.

She is a throwback to a different era, when racehorses thrived on action. Golden Antigua made 12 starts as a 2-year-old, seven at age 3, 10 as a 4-year-old, and already has run six times this year. Besides a month's break between starts here and there and a break from racing when she was imported from Europe, Golden Antigua doesn't require any significant time off. And the more she races, the better she gets.

Riding a two-race winning streak, Golden Antigua tops a field of eight fillies and mares entered in the $45,000 Possibly Perfect Stakes, a nine-furlong turf race that is Arlington's Independence Day feature. Post time Thursday is 4 p.m., with a fireworks show to follow the races.

Owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano claimed Golden Antigua for $65,000 five starts into her United States career. She did well for them in 2001, winning twice and quickly making back her claim price, but Golden Antigua raised her game to a higher level this season.

"She's definitely better than last year," Catalano said. "She's a 5-year-old, and that can be a good year for a mare. She started getting sounder, maturing, just feeling better."

Golden Antigua raced three weeks ago in allowance company, and so sharp is she right now that even a switch from turf to dirt because of rain couldn't stop her. Catalano, a former jockey, was aboard Golden Antigua when she worked five furlongs on turf here last Wednesday and said the mare had retained her edge. "That was a great work," he said.

Golden Antigua will need another strong effort to win the Possibly Perfect, which has come up tough for a race at this level. Salty Farma and Tabadabado, one-two in a classy June 9 allowance at Churchill Downs, are in, as are stakes winners Twilight Tryst, Lady of Peace, and Moonlady.

Since she is by the speed sire Salt Lake and won dirt sprints to start her career, it seems surprising that Salty Farma has been so effective in grass routes. "I don't know where she gets that from," trainer Dave Kassen said.

Still trying to get his filly to pay attention, Kassen added blinkers for Salty Farma's win last month. "She's a big filly and a slow learner," he said.

Tabadabado was running at Salty Farma late in that one-mile race, and might benefit from the extra furlong she has to work with Thursday.

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