05/22/2006 12:00AM

Lewis Michael unlikely to run in Belmont

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Sunriver (left) zips by Lewis Michael just before the wire in the Peter Pan.

CHICAGO - Lewis Michael had been training since March like a vastly improved 3-year-old, but because of a troubled trip in the April 8 Illinois Derby, Lewis Michael's connections couldn't be sure how good their horse was. That's what Lewis Michael's trip to New York last weekend was all about, and after taking heavily favored and highly regarded Sunriver down to the wire in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes, finishing second by a neck, Lewis Michael gave proof in the afternoon of what trainer Wayne Catalano had been seeing during morning training.

But after showing that he could run a high-class race on dirt, Lewis Michael probably will head back to what seems like his preferred surface - turf. While the Belmont Stakes offers a $1 million purse and has the added allure of being a classic race, the Lewis Michael camp is at this juncture more inclined toward a $1 million grass race, the June 24 Colonial Turf Cup in Virginia.

"That's the plan right now," Catalano said Monday. "I can't say we're definitely out, but we're not leaning toward the Belmont."

Lewis Michael came out of the Peter Pan in good physical condition, Catalano said, and was en route from Belmont back to Catalano's Arlington barn Monday afternoon. Should the Belmont Stakes start to soften up - if Preakness winner Bernardini opts not to run, and there are other notable defections - Lewis Michael could return to New York next month. But Catalano said that as of Monday, "We are not going to the Belmont."

Lewis Michael has made 5 of his 8 career starts on turf, winning an overnight stakes race last fall at Churchill. Since the horse has matured and developed significantly since he last raced on grass, the thought is that his turf form could leap forward if, as his connections believe, Lewis Michael is more naturally suited to turf racing.

Owner Frank Calabrese bred Lewis Michael, and though he has since sold the colt's dam, Justenuffheart, Calabrese also owns a 2-year-old full sister to Lewis Michael named Dreaming of Anna. And judging by her career debut last Friday at Arlington, Dreaming of Anna may be at least as good as Lewis Michael. Dreaming of Anna defeated only four rivals, but she showed great speed en route to a four-length win, and her 4 1/2-furlong time of 51.87 seconds was excellent, even for a fast-playing racetrack. No firm plans have yet been set for Dreaming of Anna's next start, according to Steve Leving, Calabrese's racing manager.

Dimple Pinch sitting on golden trip?

Talk about flattered. Two weekends ago at Arlington, Rich Fantasy made her fellow Illinois-bred 3-year-old filly Taylor Madison look pretty good. Rich Fantasy won the $49,000 Ribbon Stakes on May 13 by six lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 96 for a fast six-furlong win. Back on April 29 at Hawthorne, Taylor Madison beat Rich Fantasy by three-quarters of a length in the Illinois-bred Lady Hallie Stakes.

How good is Taylor Madison? That question might have a more definitive answer after Wednesday's featured eighth race at Arlington - or it might not. Taylor Madison was one of six entered in this open third-level sprint allowance race, but with Taylor Madison surely pointing for one of two Illinois-bred stakes here June 24, she might not be in peak form for the Wednesday feature. In fact, with no published works as of Sunday since her win in the Lady Hallie, and a potentially difficult rail draw, Taylor Madison might be worth trying to beat in this spot.

And if one is standing against Taylor Madison, who almost has to show speed from the rail, one might also be against Granny's Pride, who will vie with Taylor Madison for favoritism, and may duel with her on a quick pace. There are a couple of other pace-pressers entered, and the race might be ripe for a clunk-up upset. There are two candidates for this kind of trip, but outside-drawn Dimple Pinch is preferred over inside-drawn Bold Passage. Dimple Pinch was only a half-length behind Granny's Pride in a May 5 race at this class level, and may be able to improve upon that performance.

Fifteen Rounds a Hanshin possibility

Trainer Christine Janks said on Friday that Fifteen Rounds, the best horse in her stable, was acting like he was ready to move on from regular gallops to some stronger form of training. And Janks knows her horse. Fifteen Rounds breezed five furlongs in a bullet 58.60 seconds Sunday at Arlington, which appears to be a sign that Fifteen Rounds is ready to move from breezing to getting back into a race. But Janks, as of Sunday, still hadn't decided which way to go with Fifteen Rounds. Saturday's Hanshin Handicap is one option, but the one-mile distance of that race is farther than Fifteen Rounds's best.

* Janks also said that Pretty Jenny, who won the Fit for a Queen Stakes on Saturday, was likely to make her next start in the Isaac Murphy Stakes for Illinois-breds on June 24 at Arlington.