09/20/2001 11:00PM

Is route race beyond Faccia Bella's scope?


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Though this has not been a strong Arlington Park meet for trainer Danny Miller, there was a bright spot Sept. 8 when his Illinois-bred, Faccia Bella, upset a good field of high-end, open allowance horses at nearly 24-1. Faccia Bella, the star of Miller's stable, returns to action Sunday at Arlington in the $45,000 Unique Type, an overnight handicap.

The good news is Faccia Bella is back in with statebred company. At about 1 1/16 miles, however, the Unique Type may be beyond Faccia Bella's best distance. The allowance race she won earlier this month came at seven furlongs.

"I'd wanted to try her at seven-eighths for a long time," Miller said. "She'd run a big race going 5 1/2 [furlongs] at Sportsman's this spring, and I thought with a little more distance, a sprint would be just right. She'll be all right at two turns, but she just hangs a little bit at the end."

Faccia Bella is a filly that everyone on the Chicago circuit seems to know. With a bright white face and a refined feminine look, she stands out on the racetrack.

"I really do think her looks make people recognize her," Miller


Now a 4-year-old, Faccia Bella, owned by R.T.M. Racing, Ltd., was an Illinois champion at age 2. Back then, she was trained by Dr. Francis DeRosa, but when DeRosa died last year, Miller took over her training.

Miller's own connection to Faccia Bella extends far into the past. As a full-time exercise rider many years ago, he galloped the filly's dam, Honey Mac Dan, when she was a 2-year-old. Miller, 59, gallops Faccia Bella, too, and even rides her in most of her workouts. "I just feel that way I can get a better idea of where the horse is at," he said.

If she can run as well in her route Sunday as she did in her recent sprint - and Miller said Faccia Bella continues to train well - the filly will be tough to beat. The main threats among a full field of entrants could be a pair of Harvey Vanier-trained horses, Lorraine and Magic Motel. Lorraine bit off more than she could chew in an open overnight handicap earlier this month, but won an allowance race by almost four lengths before that. Magic

Motel, meanwhile, was second in an Illinois-bred handicap here on July 1.

Meadowminer nearly ready to race

The undefeated 3-year-old colt, Meadowminer, is closing in on a return to racing for owner Frank Calabrese and owner Wayne Catalano. Meadowminer, 3 for 3 in his brief career, might start in a third-level allowance race here at the end of the month.

Meadowminer has not raced since last November, when he won the Old Hickory Stakes at Fair Grounds. Meadowminer won his maiden at Arlington last summer before going on to beat allowance horses at Hawthorne.

But the colt underwent surgery to remove bone chips after the Old Hickory and only returned to training this summer. Catalano, who is battling for the training title here, is high on Meadowminer, who worked an easy five furlongs here Monday. "I think he's a good horse, I really do," Catalano said.