07/30/2007 12:00AM

Lewis Michael reaches new level


Lewis Michael's romp Saturday in the Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington Park prompted trainer Wayne Catalano to call the effort the colt's "best race ever, comparable to nothing." He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105.

Lewis Michael, the odds-on favorite, drew off to win the 1 3/16-mile Washington Park Cap by nearly five lengths. A 4-year-old Rahy colt bred and owned by Frank Calabrese, Lewis Michael registered his first graded win in the $300,000 Washington Park, marking his sixth victory from 18 starts.

"He's run a lot of good races, but nothing like Saturday," said Catalano.

Catalano said Sunday from his Arlington base that Lewis Michael came out of the race in perfect shape and that he has no particular race in mind for the colt. Lewis Michael was coming off a layoff of less than two weeks. He easily won a July 15 allowance on the Arlington Polytrack, getting a 106 Beyer.

Lewis Michael has proven quite versatile, racing on dirt, turf, or Polytrack.

"We're going to give him a little breather after those two races in two weeks," said Catalano. "We'll start from scratch and draw up a whole new game plan."

Earlier Saturday, Catalano moved into fourth place on the all-time Arlington wins list when Cowboy Code won the fourth race. Through Sunday, the top five slots at the Arlington Heights, Ill., track are occupied by Richard Hazelton with 1,162 wins, the late Jere Smith Sr. (783), Harvey Vanier (719), Catalano (594), and the late Joe Bollero (591).

Catalano, the perennial leading trainer at Arlington in recent years, is well on his way to another title, having sent out 45 winners at the current meet heading into Wednesday action.

No shortage of speed

At first glance, Tenpointfive looks like the horse to beat in the Wednesday feature at Arlington, a $32,500 second-level allowance at a mile on turf.

Tenpointfive has earned big Beyers and showed big speed in two Arlington turf races since returning to action following a brief respite, getting a 98 in a wire-to-wire score on June 16, then earning a 91 when nipped on the wire in the July 7 Black Tie Affair for Illinois-breds.

But the presence of several horses stretching out from sprint races could give Tenpointfive plenty of unwanted early competition while throwing the Wednesday feature wide open. Among the others figuring to show early speed are Shark and Finance Minister, both coming off five-furlong turf races.

In all, 14 were entered in the eighth of nine Wednesday races, although only as many as 12 can start. Besides Tenpointfive, who is trained by Mike Reavis, the other logical contenders include a handful of horses based primarily in Kentucky. They are Wise River, who was beaten just a head in a similar turf allowance at Arlington on July 6 when returning from a layoff of more than 13 months; Poschner, who two starts back also was beaten just a head in a second-level Arlington turf allowance; Tactical Joe, a consistent gray gelding who will break from the inside post; and Demarcation, a 3-year-old making his turf debut after being the beaten favorite behind Simon Pure in a tough Churchill Downs allowance on June 16.

Better than a billboard?

Arlington is using a rather unusual method for advertising its upcoming International Festival of Racing in the local market: a hot-air balloon.

A balloon with signage for the Aug. 11 festival, highlighted by the Arlington Million, will fly the skies of Chicago on Wednesday through Friday and then again for the three days (Aug. 8-10) before the big event, according to Arlington officials.

General admission on Million Day is $10.