11/23/2005 12:00AM

If Lewis Michael likes dirt, beware


CHICAGO - The owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano send out Chicago claiming-race winners in waves. But now they have come up with a different sort of horse - the sort of horse that can start a person dreaming.

Lewis Michael is less than six weeks from his 3-year-old birthday, and no doubt, this horse can run. The question going into his 3-year-old season, however, is whether Lewis Michael's best races will be confined to turf, or whether his connections can explore terrain far from the claiming wars, namely the Triple Crown trail.

Lewis Michael well may get his chance on dirt sometime this winter in Florida, but last weekend at Churchill he showed what he can do on grass, winning the Grand Canyon Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. It was Lewis Michael's second win in four starts. In October, he took a tough beat in a Keeneland turf allowance

race. In his career debut at Arlington, his lone dirt race, Lewis Michael finished second to Laity, who cruised to an easy win in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs in his next start.

"He looks like he might turn out to be a pretty nice horse," Catalano said. "He came out of the race good. We got high hopes for him."

Catalano's barn is gradually migrating to Florida, and Lewis Michael, a Catalano homebred out of the mare Justenuffheart, will soon wind up there himself. Catalano said Lewis Michael would be nominated to the Tropical Park Derby, a nine-furlong turf race run on Jan. 1 at Calder.

"Someday, we need to put him on the dirt in case he's good enough," Catalano said. "But right at the moment, if you could get some graded-stakes money, that'd be pretty good, too."

Trippi Street has bone chip

The news on the promising Catalano-trained 2-year-old filly Trippi Street was not so positive. Not long after her second-place finish in the Nov. 5 Pocahontas at Churchill, Trippi Street was found to have a bone chip in her left knee during a veterinary examination associated with a potential sale. Trippi Street, owned by Darrell and Evelyn Yates, should rejoin Catalano's barn in a couple of months, the trainer said.

"We decided we might as well take care of the thing now," said Catalano. "She should be fine next year."

Seattle Lake much improved

When discussing the form of a horse, trainers throw around the phrase, "So and so is doing better than ever." Trainer Frank Randazzo Jr. didn't say it, but he could have. Seattle Lake, a 6-year-old mare Randazzo claimed two years ago for just $10,000, really does seem to be better than ever. She has won 4 of 6 starts this season - to say nothing of the 11 wins and $120,000-plus in earnings since the Randazzo claim - and is the horse to beat in the featured third race Friday at Hawthorne.

The feature is for fourth-level allowance horses or $50,000 claimers; Seattle Lake is eligible for the allowance condition.

Seattle Lake, a Salt Lake mare owned by Nick Angelou, is no dainty filly. Her long body seems to extend a couple of extra feet. Her hindquarters look more masculine than feminine.

"We call her Big Mama's House," Randazzo said.

Seattle Lake had a slab fracture in a knee when Randazzo claimed her, he said. One work, and she was turned out to heal for several months. And it has been that kind of story all along: Seattle Lake takes extra work to keep her going the right way, but has been worth the trouble.

"She's got her problems," said Randazzo. "We manage them pretty good - my groom's a pretty good hand. She takes a lot more work than the average horse, but we just treat her with extra-special care."

Seattle Lake missed by a head last out in an open five-furlong allowance race at Hoosier. Randazzo said pilot error had something to do with the loss, and he thinks she will run her race Friday. If so, the feature is hers. Seattle Lake has seven opponents, and all things being equal, they won't beat her.

* Jockey Duane Salvino earned his 1,000th career victory Wednesday at Hawthorne as he guided Bubba Boy to a front-running win in the sixth race.