05/16/2002 11:00PM

Slider enhancing Lundy's life after Paragallo

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STICKNEY, Ill. ? After a whirlwind winter, trainer Dick Lundy is right back where he was at this time last year: training in Chicago and readying his stable for the upcoming Arlington meet.

Things weren't supposed to work like this. Lundy signed on as owner Ernie Paragallo's semi-private trainer last fall and had planned to spend this summer in New York. But while saying he had no real complaints with Lundy's training of his horses, Paragallo fired Lundy earlier this spring, putting Lundy back where he was last year.

It's not a bad place to be. Lundy had a fine year in 2001, and starts off at Arlington with a 23-horse string that could have been larger. He has excelled with grass fillies the last couple years, but now has an older dirt horse with exciting potential, Slider, who will make his next start in a stakes race that Lundy and the gelding's owners soon will pick out.

Lundy took over Slider's training less than two months ago, in time to see Slider win a sprint allowance April 25 at Keeneland by more than six lengths. The 120 Beyer Speed Figure that Slider earned is the highest recorded at any distance so far this year.

It's a far cry from Slider's early-career form, when he started in three claiming races and struggled to clear his second allowance condition. But Slider, who previously was trained by James Garoutte, steadily improved in the last year, and his race at Keeneland, while exceptional, didn't come out of nowhere.

"I'm trying to figure out what to do with him," Lundy said. "I'm not convinced he won't go long."

A Thursday workout at Arlington reinforced Lundy's belief that Slider could be more than a sprinter. After working six furlongs in 1:13, Slider galloped out seven furlongs in about 1:26 and a mile in about 1:40. "He galloped out just super," Lundy said.

Mucho Rapido drops in class Sunday

Mucho Rapido, who was unable to keep up in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes last month at Keeneland, returns to allowance company Sunday in Hawthorne's featured ninth race. Mucho Rapido faces eight rivals.

An Illinois-bred trained by Harvey Vanier, Mucho Rapido won the first two starts of his career at Hawthorne last fall, but was beaten as a heavy favorite by Colorful Tour in the Jim Edgar Futurity to end his year. Besides the Lexington, in which he finished seventh, Mucho Rapido ran in another graded stakes this year, finishing fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby.

He must beat Fiery Diablo, an older horse who is set to move forward, to win Sunday. Fiery Diablo came back from a long layoff to finish sixth at Sportsman's in his last race, a start trainer Michelle Boyce predicted Fiery Diablo would need before producing a top effort.