09/26/2001 11:00PM

Not-so-magnificent seven


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - In the end, the issue might boil down to cold cash. At $150,000, the purse for the Arlington-Washington Futurity isn't big enough to entice the nation's top 2-year-olds. And since Chicago's 2-year-old colony this season has been decidedly soft, the Grade 2 Futurity will be run for the 67th time on Saturday at Arlington with a somewhat ordinary field of seven.

While the best 2-year-olds on the coasts head to Santa Anita's Norfolk ($250,000), Keeneland's Breeders' Futurity ($400,000-added) and Belmont's Champagne ($500,000), Arlington's Futurity, which has been a stakes rather than a real futurity since 1993, drew five horses with only a maiden win on their resume, and only one stakes winner, Lunar Bounty.

One of the maiden winners is Major Storm, a Storm Cat colt owned by Overbrook Farm and based at Churchill Downs with D. Wayne Lukas. Despite blue blood and world-class connections, Major Storm took five starts to win a race. When he finally did, it came in an Aug. 19 turf race at Saratoga that drew only six other entrants. Major Storm, however, improved as soon as he switched to route races, and he has worked well since his win, including a bullet five-furlong drill in 1:00.20 Sept. 19 at Churchill. Leading rider Rene Douglas has a call for Lukas, who won this race in 1987 with Tejano.

Locally based Lunar Bounty, who has never run beyond a sprint distance, and Godolphin's improving Dubai Squire, who has never run in a stakes, are the only colts in the field with two wins. Lunar Bounty, a debut winner at Arlington for owner Tom Durant and trainer Ronny Werner, beat a weak field in the Grade 2 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs before flopping in a tougher Saratoga stakes. But he bounced back to finish second here in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid, and Werner, who has had a breakout year training 2-year-olds, believes Lunar Bounty will improve at a mile.

As Godolphin's Arlington string turned a corner this summer after a slow start, so too did Dubai Squire, who looked bad in his first two races, better in an Aug. 23 maiden win, and good when he won a Sept. 9 one-mile allowance here by more than seven lengths.

Tinker, coming off a debut win, finished third in the Spectacular Bid. He bled in the race and adds Lasix on Saturday. Trainer Gene Cilio feels Tinker will be suited to route racing.

No Trouble, second to Dubai Squire in his last race, is trained by Mike Stidham, who nearly upset the Arlington-Washington Lassie last weekend with Brief Bliss. Publication, a maiden winner at Bay Meadows, ships in for trainer Terry Knight, while It'sallinthechase was a closing fourth in the Spectacular Bid.