07/25/2006 11:00PM

Lewis Michael back on dirt


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - There are two second-level allowance races on the Friday program at Arlington Park - but only one of them has Lewis Michael in it.

That makes race 3, rather than race 8, the most interesting of the nine on the Friday card, and though owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano have a coupled entry in the third, Catalano said it is Lewis Michael rather than the recently claimed Cat and a Half who will make the start.

"He's going to run," Catalano said.

Lewis Michael's most recent start was disappointing, a ninth-place finish in the $1 million Colonial Turf Cup on June 24. Lewis Michael raced in second behind Kip Deville, who ran off to a 15-length lead on the backstretch, but had nothing for the stretch run, fading to ninth in a 14-horse field.

But five weeks before, Lewis Michael turned in a corker of an effort in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont, making all the pace and nearly holding off favored Sunriver, eventually losing by a neck.

Friday, it is back to dirt for Lewis Michael, who races in a one-turn mile, the same kind of race in which he started his career here last summer.

"That's his race, a one-turn mile," said Catalano.

Lewis Michael had been mentioned as a candidate for last Saturday's American Derby, but instead worked an easy five furlongs on Sunday morning. It was his breeze 10 days earlier, however, that represented Lewis Michael's major recent morning activity, a crisp half-mile in a bullet 46 seconds.

"He's been training super," Catalano said. "Rene Douglas worked the horse, and he worked extremely good with him. The horse is perfect going into the race."

Lewis Michael should not fall far from the early lead, which figures to go to Prosico, who won an entry-level allowance by almost six lengths last out for trainer Dale Bennett. Prosico got away with an easy early lead in that big win, but may not be so fortunate Friday; if nothing else, Lewis Michael could run early and challenge him. If Prosico takes pressure, he could be vulnerable to a late run from Suvorov or Classic Play, with Suvorov a potentially attractive exacta play with Lewis Michael, who should be heavily favored.

Race 8, the other second-level allowance, is carded at six furlongs, and figures to have Outsmoken as a favorite. Trained by Hugh Robertson, Outsmoken rallied for second last out, and has a good post for a favorable pace-pressing or stalking trip in this spot.