06/04/2002 11:00PM

The old boy still has plenty of run


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Arlington's marketing efforts are pumping up this year as the track's 75th anniversary season. It only seems like Chindi has been around for all that time.

Really, Chindi is only a 7-year-old, though his first race, a romp in a $25,000 maiden claimer, did come five years ago - the ancient past by current standards of Thoroughbred longevity - and he has made 55 career starts.

Amazingly, Chindi still is going strong. He comes off an authoritative allowance win at Prairie Meadows, has won two of his last three starts, and might also have won the Hot Springs Handicap at Oaklawn in late March had he not been knocked around in a rough stretch run.

He is a deserving favorite in Arlington's Friday feature, a six-furlong allowance race for horses that haven't won $23,000 twice since Jan. 1.

Chindi appeared to be tailing off last year. Between November 2000 and last October, he lost eight times in a row, and it took a drop into a high-end claiming race for Chindi to break his dry spell. But Chindi, under the steady hand of trainer Steve Hobby, has come back into form this year.

"We turned him out over the winter," Hobby said. "He hates being turned out. He's unhappy the whole time he's there. But it does him a world of good."

Chindi's style is simple: He leaves the gate in a gallop and makes one big run late in his race.

Hobby once timed Chindi in less than 22 seconds for his final quarter-mile in a race, and though Chindi needs more time to crank up these days, at his best he still comes home flying.

Another Midwest stalwart, Sand Ridge, just won the Bob Feller Stakes at Prairie Meadows, and is a win threat Friday in a well- matched field of six.

Slider may try big boys

Having shown that he can handle a route of ground, the vastly improved 4-year-old Slider may be asked to tackle Grade 1 horses the next time he runs.

Trainer Dick Lundy said Wednesday that Slider is being considered for the Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs, pending weight assignments for the race, which will be released this weekend.

Slider, who is owned by Kuehne Racing and Steve Knight, won his maiden in a $25,000 claiming race two summers ago, but has improved steadily during the last year, first under trainer James Garoutte, then for Lundy, who took over his training this spring. In his first start for Lundy, Slider won a Keeneland allowance race by almost seven lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 120, tops in the country before Swept Over-board's 122 in the Metropolitan Handicap.

Impressed with the way Slider finished in that seven-furlong race and in a subsequent six-furlong workout at Arlington, Lundy tried Slider in a two-turn allowance May 25 at Churchill, Slider's first route race in 22 career starts. Slider raced on the lead, but in a relaxed fashion, and finished well under Pat Day to post a neck win over a stakes-quality field.

"I think he handled the trip well the other day," said Lundy, who plans to work Slider here Friday or Saturday. "He ran the last three-eighths in 35 and three [fifths], and that'll win a lot of races. Pat said he had so much horse left."

Lundy said he would love to try Slider in a one-turn mile here, but the one-mile Hanshin Handicap, run on July 20, is too far out to be considered now.

"I think he would be as good a one-turn mile horse as you could want," Hobby said.

Decision time for Cashel Castle

Cashel Castle has begun training again after experiencing a setback following his second-place finish in the April 27 Derby Trial, but trainer Chris Block remains uncertain when Cashel Castle will race again.

Cashel Castle jogged Wednesday at Arlington and has regularly been going to the track for riderless exercise while accompanied by a pony. He'll begin galloping in the coming days, and next week Block and owner Barry Buchholz will assess Cashel Castle's standing. Either the colt will race again this summer, or, Block said, he will be turned out, rested, and pointed to a 2003 campaign.

Cashel Castle won the first five starts of his career before losing to Sky Terrace on a sloppy track in the Derby Trial. Cashel Castle did not come out of the race well and his physical condition caused Block to back off on the colt's training.

Count in Caressing

Add Caressing's name to the list of likely starters in Saturday's Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap. Trainer Dave Vance told Arlington racing officials that he intended to start Caressing in the race after watching Caressing work an easy four furlongs Wednesday at Churchill.

The other probable starters include likely favorite Mandy's Gold, Extended View, Cat in the Hat, Applesolutely, and Soul Onarazorsedge. There are several other fillies considered possible for the race.