04/22/2004 11:00PM

Janks getting colt started


STICKNEY, Ill. - For a trainer with a fourth-level allowance horse, entry day is teeth-gnashing day. In the era of short fields, racing secretaries have trouble making these high-end races go. A horseman might have spent months preparing for a specific race, only to see it fail to fill. The horse stays in its stall.

What in the world happened at Hawthorne on Friday, when entries were taken for Sunday? Not only did a fourth-level allowance make it into the card, it drew 11 entries - a wealth of good horses.

"I was kind of afraid the race wouldn't even go," trainer Christine Janks said.

Janks entered two: Manitowish, and the horse of note, Fifteen Rounds. Fifteen Rounds won 4 of 6 starts last year at age 3, and it will be interesting to see how he fares in his 4-year-old debut. It is a difficult spot. Fifteen Rounds should have front-end pressure if he tries for the lead, and high-quality opponents in horses like Ajedrez and Without a Doubt.

"He's pretty ready," Janks said. "Maybe he's not 100 percent, but he's pretty fit. There's just not another race for him for quite awhile. We'll try him now."

When last seen, in September, Fifteen Rounds was running against the likes of Cajun Beat and Clock Stopper in the Kentucky Cup Sprint. Fifteen Rounds finished seventh of 11 there, but that might not have been his best race, After steady development through the summer, Fifteen Rounds could have reached a plateau.

He looks like the sort of horse to fire fresh. But will Fifteen Rounds be too fresh? The horse's major asset last season was brilliant speed, and the ability to sustain it for at least three-quarters of a mile. But there is plenty of pace Sunday.

"I think he's relaxed a little bit now. I don't think that he needs to have the lead," Janks said.

King Cielo, the horse drawn inside Fifteen Rounds, has plenty of gas. He should challenge for the lead, and so should Without a Doubt, who breaks from the outside. Without a Doubt was second, beaten a head, in his 2004 debut, but he should move forward now.

Ajedrez will run from behind, and could run out of real estate at six furlongs. "I don't think it's my horse's best distance," trainer Pat Cuccurullo said. "I think the six furlongs compromises him a little bit, but we'll see."

Ajedrez, an Argentine import, won 3 of 5 starts last season, but was fourth of six here March 20 at six furlongs.

Catalano doing just fine

Wayne Catalano was down for how long? Catalano and Frank Calabrese, Chicago's leading owner, split earlier this year. It was not long before Catalano picked up another client, Turf Express Inc. - and picked up where he left off with Calabrese.

Catalano settled in at Mountaineer Park - and started winning like crazy. Through Thursday's races at Mountaineer, Catalano had started 26 horses and won with 13 of them.

"Everything's gone pretty good since I've been up here," Catalano said, reached by phone early Friday afternoon.

Catalano now has five horses in Chicago, but more are on the way. Arlington opens for training on Monday. "We'll be there when they open the door," Catalano said.

Catalano will have 30 stalls at Arlington, while holding onto 17 at Mountaineer, with another 19 horses on a farm less than two miles from the track. But he said he is unlikely to make a run at his third straight Arlington training title.

"Maybe next year. This is more a transition season," Catalano said.

Cilio barn steady

The stable of Gene Cilio, who died last fall, will consolidate for the Arlington meet, where the horses will run under trainer Greg Geier's name. Geier, a longtime assistant to Cilio, took over the string in New Orleans this winter, while Andy Hansen, another Cilio-stable regular, handled the Chicago string. Horses at Hawthorne ran under the names of both trainers, but only Geier, it appears, will be listed at Arlington.

"The operation will still be the same," Geier said Friday morning. "Everyone's fine with it."

Geier and Hansen have been given 46 stalls - a full barn - for the Arlington meet. In fact, the stable basically has remained intact since Cilio died.

"Everybody's sticking with us," Geier said. "I wondered about it. Who knows? They could all be gone. But all the horses that we've had, we still have."

Mississippi Rain looking sharp

The trainer Joel Berndt already has one Illinois-bred stakes horse, Silver Bid, who has become a fixture in high-end Chicago sprint races the last couple seasons. And Berndt might have come up with another. Mississippi Rain definitely exuded stakes quality last Saturday, when he won an entry-level allowance race by more than nine lengths. Mississippi Rain, now 2 for 3 in his career, ran six furlongs in a snappy 1:10.80 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89.

"He's always looked like that kind of horse," Berndt said.

Mississippi Rain was all but ready to race about a year ago, but nagging physical problems sidelined him until this season. And though Mississippi Rain, a 3-year-old by Cartwright, has contested three sprints, Berndt suspects the horse will improve with added distance. Expect to see him and Silver Bid in Arlington prep races for Illinois-bred stakes to be run in June.

* Jockey Carlos Montalvo and his valet, Salvador Davila, both were issued 15-day suspensions beginning April 17. The pair was suspended for an incident before the first race on April 16, when Davila was observed removing weight from Montalvo's saddle after the rider had checked in for the race.