09/19/2007 12:00AM

Meier keeps eye on next generation

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Milestones can make a person survey the past, and Randy Meier did that upon winning the 4,000th race of his career last Sunday at Arlington Park. But by Wednesday morning, Meier had moved on to Hawthorne from Arlington, and he was looking into the future more than over his shoulder.

That's especially true because there's a new generation of a jockey named Meier: Brandon Meier, Randy's 19-year-old son, has been working as an exercise rider for about three months, and the plan is to launch his career at the start of the next Arlington meet.

Randy Meier, 57, said he'd like nothing better than to line up in the starting gate against Brandon sometime next year.

"I told him that I used to let him win at basketball, but this is business," Meier said.

Meier is one of the fortunate breed of jockey, a natural lightweight who even now can easily make 112 pounds. Brandon is 5 feet 7 inches tall, but is light-framed and currently tips the scales at a feathery 111. Meier asked that his son attend college for a year and give another sort of life a chance; Brandon did as he was told, but quickly opted into the racing world when freed from academic life.

"We just figured if we didn't let him have that opportunity, he'd say we never gave him a chance," Meier said.

Brandon has not one but two tutors at the moment. Wayne Catalano, runaway leading trainer at Arlington, and a former jockey himself, has "taken Brandon under his wing," Meier said. While Randy Meier worked Catalano's best horses this summer, Catalano worked with Brandon Meier, schooling him in both riding and horsemanship.

"Cat, he's been awesome," Randy Meier said. "I think he's paying back what Jack Van Berg did for him when he was young."

Meanwhile, Meier is getting ready for another long Hawthorne winter. Meier has hit the ground hard more times than seems humanly possible - he broke a wrist last December - but said he feels great and has no plans to retire. His new goal? Four-thousand five-hundred wins - and a trip to the post with his son somewhere in the parade.

"Walking away from this is going to be harder than people think," Meier said. "It's in my blood."

Lewis Michael heading to California

While Catalano and owner Frank Calabrese have four horses in on opening day at Hawthorne Friday, and many of their stalls on the backstretch here are full, the cream of the stable remains at Arlington, soon to disperse.

The main Catalano-Calabrese news Wednesday was confirmation that Lewis Michael, an easy winner of the Washington Park Handicap in his most recent start, is headed to California for the Sept. 29 Goodwood Handicap at Santa Anita. Lewis Michael had been scheduled to leave last Sunday, but a flight closer to the race was found and Lewis Michael will fly on a flight originating in Lexington, Ky. on Sept. 26. The plan is to give Lewis Michael one more Arlington breeze before he hits the road.

The Lexington airport sits right across the street from Keeneland, and that is where the Dreaming fillies - Dreaming of Anna and Dreaming of Liz - also are headed later this month. Dreaming of Anna will start in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, while Dreaming of Liz will go in the Alcibiades Stakes, a prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Dreaming of Anna, and probably Dreaming of Liz, were scheduled to work Thursday at Arlington.

Fort Prado impressive in sprint win

Fort Prado won a turf-sprint allowance race Sunday at Arlington by a neck, but he expanded his horizons by a much wider margin in so doing. Fort Prado began his career almost four years ago in two-turn turf races, and before Sunday he had never started in a race shorter than seven furlongs. But he made a grand impression winning a five-furlong turf race with a stakes-class field, moving from last of six at the quarter pole under Rene Douglas to post a narrow win over the good horse Lookinforthesecret.

"I thought if he could adapt to the shorter distance, that he would certainly have quite a kick, but he had to show enough early foot to stay in position," said trainer Chris Block. "Give the horse a lot of credit, but I thought Rene rode him very, very well. It looks like he likes the distance, and I haven't seen that kind of a flourish out of him in a long time."

There are two possible spots for Fort Prado next month: the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes over six furlongs at Woodbine on Oct. 21 and the $100,000 Woodford Stakes at five furlongs on Oct. 18 at Keeneland.

Shrewd Operator backs up debut

Meanwhile, the Block-trained Shrewd Operator came back from his huge debut win Aug. 5 to post an equally striking entry-level allowance win Sept. 12 at Arlington. Just as he had in his first start, Shrewd Operator made a clear lead shortly into the race, ran his opponents off their feet with an impressive display of early speed, and raced alone through the stretch. He had won his debut by eight lengths with six furlongs in 1:08.80; this time, it was a five-length win with six furlongs in 1:09.80.

Shrewd Operator could make his next start in the Kentucky Cup Sprint on Sept. 29 or in the Perryville Stakes on Oct. 13 at Keeneland. Both races are restricted to 3-year-olds.

Cloudy's Knight shipping to Woodbine

Cloudy's Knight, Chicago's best 10- to 12-furlong grass horse, is likely to ship by van to Woodbine on Thursday for the Sky Classic Handicap on Sunday, trainer Frank Kirby said Tuesday. Cloudy's Knight has taken tough beats in his two most recent starts: a nose loss in the Stars and Stripes at Arlington and a second by less than a length in the Aug. 26 Nijinsky Stakes at Woodbine.