04/19/2008 12:00AM

Our Cat tries to rebound


STICKNEY, Ill. - Wayne Catalano, training away for his owner Frank Calabrese, is having a slow meet at Gulfstream Park, where his 24 victories from 71 starters work out to a win rate of "only" 34 percent. Now, here at Hawthorne, Catalano is doing better. Through Friday, he had won 7 of 12, which translates to a much more presentable 58 percent.

All joking aside, Catalano and Calabrese are having an outstanding 2008, especially considering that the meat of their season, Arlington, hasn't even come round yet. At Gulfstream, Catalano - the nation's leading percentage trainer in 2007 - trails Todd Pletcher by two wins in the trainer standings. At Hawthorne, Catalano is tied for seventh in the standings despite the fact that he has started at least 21 fewer horses than any other outfit in the top 10, and is 101 runners behind leading trainer Frank Kirby, who has won 17 races so far this meet.

"We've got a great year started this time," said Catalano. "Our first couple months are slow months for us, so it's one of the best starts we've had in years."

On Monday, Catalano has a good chance to add to his Hawthorne win total with Our Cat, who starts in the seventh of 10 races, an $18,000 claimer at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. Claimed for this tag by Calabrese last fall, Our Cat won a conditioned claimer at Gulfstream, but must bounce back Monday after a fading fifth-place finish in a one-mile grass race March 28 at Gulfstream.

"I don't think it was so much the distance that day as he just really didn't fire," Catalano said.

Catalano said he figures to have some 35 horses when his whole stable gets together at Arlington Park in the next couple weeks. The string will include Dreaming of Anna, who may be the best female grass horse in the country at this moment, and Dreaming of Anna's older brother, Lewis Michael, who has returned to training, but has yet to post a breeze in 2008. Dreaming of Anna, Catalano said, will make her next start either May 3 at Churchill in the Distaff Turf Mile or May 31 at Woodbine in the Nassau Stakes.

* Arlington opens its stable gates to horsemen for its 2008 season on Monday, with training set to begin at the suburban Chicago plant on Wednesday. The final day of the Hawthorne spring meet is Monday, April 28, with Arlington set to commence it's meet on Friday, May 2.