06/11/2002 12:00AM

One week into the meeting, it's Wayne's World


CHICAGO - You pretty much knew that Wayne Catalano, the private trainer for Frank Calabrese, was going to come out with guns blazing at Arlington. The leading trainer here two years ago before falling two wins short of Jerry Hollendorfer last year, Catalano points for Arlington, and in the last couple seasons, what Catalano points at, Catalano hits.

Catalano won the second race of the meet with Meadowminer, lost three times, then won with all three of his starters Friday and with his first starter Saturday. After four straight winners, his horse Power and Panache was second later on Saturday, and Ft. Mann won Sunday, bringing the Catalano-Calabrese juggernaut to six wins from 11 starters during the first week of this meet.

The stable is so hot, even when it loses, it wins. Mr. High Tops, who was taking a steep drop in class, basically was eased Sunday, but was claimed from his race. Part of winning the claiming game is not being the last one stuck with a declining horse.

"You know what," Catalano said. "The main thing is we're doing the same things we've always been doing. We work hard and place them in the right spot. It worked out we had some horses ready for this meet. We wanted to come here as fresh as we can."

There have been few surprises among Catalano's winners. Without exception, they were sharp horses entered at the right class level. Some of the claimers were claimed, some won and were not. When horses depart the stable, Calabrese, who loves action, wastes little time replacing them. With help from stable manager Steve Leving, a devotee of The Sheets, Calabrese acquires new horses through claims, private purchases, and the European market.

When a claiming horse gets good, he runs in allowance or stakes races. When an allowance horse declines, he'll run in a claiming race. If a horse is not going to produce, Calabrese will get him sold one way or another and find a new horse. You don't waste starts, you don't make unrealistic assessments, and you win.

"We have to run where we can be competitive," Catalano said. "I'll put these horses where I think they belong."

Through Sunday's racing, Catalano's strategy had given him a three-win lead in the trainer's standings over his archrival, Hollendorfer.

Trujillo off to quick start

When Catalano won the first two races Friday by a combined 18 lengths, apprentice jockey Elvis Trujillo was aboard both winners. The 18-year-old Trujillo arrived in Chicago from California late Wednesday, was picked up at his hotel at 5 a.m. Friday by his new agent, Harry "The Hat" Hacek, and hours later was in the Arlington paddock, where he met Catalano for the first time.

"Steve Leving mentioned that if we could get this guy out of Southern California he could do some good here," said Hacek, who at various times has had the book of many major California riders. "Wesley Ward was working with him out there. He's about to lose his bug, and that's a tough place to break in after you lose your bug."

According to Hacek, just how long Trujillo will remain an apprentice is up in the air. "We're working with the stewards to get an extension," Hacek said.

Trujillo rode with success in California, where he won 25 races this year before departing. He speaks little English but is studying the language, and winning with his first two mounts on the first Friday at this meet went a long way toward introducing Trujillo to the locals.

"It was a dream start," Hacek said. "I've taken him around, and we've had a great response."

A confusing feature race

There is not an overabundance of turf talent entered in Thursday's feature, a second-level grass allowance for fillies and mares. If the weather forecast holds up, it might not matter, since thunderstorms were forecast for the area Tuesday and Wednesday.

Arlington already has lost three days of turf racing to rain.

On turf, the three most likely winners are Dazzling Diamonds, Margay, or Glory Glory. Dazzling Diamonds won a $40,000 claiming race at Bay Meadows on May 26 in her first start after being claimed by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who co-owns the mare with Peter Abruzzo.

Margay faces easier competition than in recent races, but has languished in this allowance condition for seven starts. Glory Glory finished ahead of her when the two met in mid-March at Fair Grounds, but Glory Glory is winless since August.

It's difficult to have confidence in any of the logical winners, and on dirt, the race becomes even more confusing.