05/08/2007 11:00PM

Lewis Michael primed for stakes win


CHICAGO - Lewis Michael is known for being the older full brother to 2-year-old filly champion Dreaming of Anna as much as for his accomplishments as a racehorse in his own right. That's partly because Lewis Michael always seems to have encountered one very sharp rival when he has stepped into graded stakes races, but in his next start, Lewis Michael could turn out to be the one to beat.

Lewis Michael breezed five furlongs in 1:02 on Tuesday at Arlington, a work his trainer Wayne Catalano deemed "super," and Catalano said Lewis Michael is on course to make his next start in the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup on May 26 at Arlington.

"We're going to try that, and if we get him a graded stakes win, he's going to be breeding mares," said Catalano, who trains both Lewis Michael and Dreaming of Anna for owner Frank Calabrese.

Lewis Michael is by Rahy and out of the mare Justenuffheart, a pedigree good enough for him to be considered some sort of stallion prospect, especially if he can win a graded stakes. That hasn't happened yet, but Lewis Michael's second to Silent Name last month in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland was the sort of performance good enough to suggest there's a graded race with his name on it somewhere out there.

As for Dreaming of Anna, Catalano remains upbeat about her future despite a sixth-place finish last Friday in the Kentucky Oaks. Dreaming of Anna set the pace in the Oaks, her first start in about 10 weeks, but faded in the stretch. Catalano said he was hoping to duplicate the conditions that produced a Churchill win last fall in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but that Dreaming of Anna was too headstrong early in the Oaks and might not have cared for a muddy track.

"I know I was out on a limb, but everything was going perfect up to that rainy day," Catalano said.

Dreaming of Anna exited the Oaks no worse for trying the race, however, and Catalano said her next race was likely to come on Polytrack or turf.

Stidham starts strong

April is a transition month for the Mike Stidham stable, which runs a string at Keeneland after leaving Fair Grounds and before moving into Arlington in early May. Stidham started just five horses at the Keeneland meet, winning a maiden race, but knocked them dead opening week at Arlington. Stidham's seven starters last week were the most among trainers during this meet's first three days, and four of those seven horses won.

"We just came in with horses with conditions, horses that were fairly fresh and doing good," Stidham said. "That's the way that you win races."

Stidham and his assistant, Hilary Pridham, both expressed satisfaction with Arlington's new Polytrack.

"We've breezed a lot of horses over it, and they've done well," Stidham said.

Among those recent workers are two horses that could soon wind up in stakes races, Sutra and Sandburr. Sutra finished second by a whisker here in the Arlington-Washington Lassie last fall before posting an upset in the Grade 1 Frizette. She then ran poorly in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She started her 3-year-old season with a second in an Oaklawn Park allowance race, and her last-place in the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland came with an excuse.

"She came out of that race with bruises on two feet, one hind, one front," Stidham said. "We gave her a week off, started back with her, and she started training better."

Stidham said he has no firm plans for Sutra, and the agenda for Sandburr, who won a Texas-bred stakes last month, is not entirely settled, either. Sandburr worked a half-mile in 48 seconds Wednesday morning, and is nominated to the Hanshin Cup.

"We're looking at the Hanshin, but it's not definite," Stidham said.

No competition for Coach Jimi Lee

Jim DiVito mapped out a plan for the graded-stakes-class sprinter Coach Jimi Lee, but reality got in the way.

Coach Jimi Lee breezed regularly through the Hawthorne meet, and DiVito, as planned, entered him in the May 5 Prairie Express Stakes at Prairie Meadows, the race that launched a strong 2006 campaign for Coach Jimi Lee. However, Prairie Meadows scrapped the stakes for lack of entries.

"A stake doesn't fill?" DiVito said. "Plan B is - we're looking for Plan B. He's ready to run - he worked [six furlongs in 1:13] the other day, and he's ready to go. But I had planned everything along those lines. Now, we'll just have to see."

DiVito won two races on opening day at Arlington, including an overnight stakes with Pirate Saint, who paid $43.80 to win.

My Chickadee heads allowance field

The featured ninth race Friday, carded at one mile on Polytrack for second-level allowance fillies, drew a field of 10 topped by My Chickadee, who finished second in the Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne in her most recent start.

Race 8 is a first-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies, and it attracted a fairly deep group. Among them is Foret - stakes-placed twice during the Tampa Bay Downs meet - who should be favored.