06/06/2006 12:00AM

Omaggio another threat from Catalano


CHICAGO - With 10 wins and 8 seconds from 36 starts during the first month of a long meet, most horse trainers would be getting hourly hosannas. For Wayne Catalano, the record is almost ho-hum.

It's Catalano himself who has set the bar so high at Arlington. He has become the perennial leading trainer here, his main client Frank Calabrese the leading owner season after season. There have been stretches early in Arlington seasons, when Catalano's outfit has all their ducks in a row, during which the barn will win a couple each day for a week.

Can one say that a 28-percent trainer is struggling? Maybe not, but things have not come as easily for Catalano this year, even though he is but one win from the top of the trainer standings. And Thursday is one of those days at Arlington when Catalano will be expected to bring home more than one win picture. He has horses in six races for Calabrese, most of them likely favorites, and Omaggio will be widely expected to win the featured eighth, a second-level allowance race carded for 1 1/16 miles on turf.

"I'm not disappointed in the way things have gone," Catalano said last week. "Somewhere in this game you should know where you stand, and I was not in good shape coming into the meet. We didn't stock up good enough. There wasn't enough opportunity in Florida. We made a couple nice moves, but the horseflesh wasn't there. You got to remember that sometimes you're going to go through a light time, but I don't even think this is a light time."

was one of the horses claimed by Calabrese during the Gulfstream meet. He was taken for $32,000 from trainer Roger Attfield on Feb. 2, finished fifth in a second-level turf-sprint allowance Feb. 13, then won by a neck in a $35,000 claimer on March 17, running a fast time. But while 1 1/16 miles is no marathon, it may be pushing up against Omaggio's distance limitations. In his favor, however, is the fact that there is little early speed in Thursday's eighth, and Omaggio may bounce along on or near soft early fractions.

If he falters, a horse like could swoop home to pick up the pieces. Or, in a return to his 2005 form, Catalano may come into race 8 with three wins in his hip pocket, trying to sweep the late double. Coming from this outfit and at this meet, that is hardly an impossible scenario, even at 28 percent wins.