11/18/2004 12:00AM

Tamweel starts to reload

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CHICAGO - Trainer Wayne Catalano has yet to make his move to Fair Grounds for the winter, and at Hawthorne he is battling for leading trainer, but down in New Orleans, Catalano's star filly Tamweel has begun her winter regimen.

Tamweel was given a freshening after she finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, beaten only three lengths by the winner, Ashado, after setting a fast pace. There were thoughts of wheeling Tamweel back sometime in late November, but instead she had a two-week break from the racetrack, spending her days in the barn, walking under tack and resting up. It had been a whirlwind few months for Tamweel, who migrated in short order from a second-level allowance horse to a contender in graded stakes races.

Catalano said he and Tamweel's owners, Turf Express Inc. and Darrell and Evelyn Yates, had no specific plans yet for Tamweel.

"She's just started back jogging four or five days ago," Catalano said. "We're just getting her started back, but it was only a couple weeks. She didn't lose much."

There are few stakes options for Tamweel at the Fair Grounds meet, and Catalano acknowledged that the filly would probably take to the road when she's ready to go again.

"We're going to have to ship her, I guess," he said.

When and where are the questions.

Coach Jimi Lee likely to shorten up

Coach Jimi Lee proved he could handle a two-turn race last Friday night in the one-mile Schaefer Handicap at Hoosier Park. Coach Jimi Lee ran fast and raced gamely - all he failed to do was win. Added Edge slipped through on the rail and beat him on the wire by a nose.

"I thought he ran a hell of a race up there," said trainer Jim DiVito. "I had a feeling he could do the distance."

Coach Jimi Lee has excelled in one-turn races, however, and is likely to turn back to a sprint the next time he goes. DiVito said Coach Jimi Lee appeared to have bounced back well from the Schaefer, and that the horse could make his next start in the seven-furlong Kenny Noe Handicap Dec. 18 at Calder, a logical spot since DiVito winters in Florida.

Beret primed for Grade 3 score

Trainer Brian Williamson is putting the finishing touches on Beret's preparations for Saturday's Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill. Beret will run in the Cardinal under the name of trainer Harvey Vanier, Williamson's father-in-law, but Williamson has been overseeing the day-to-day business of training Beret at Hawthorne.

And the work has gone well. On Oct. 2, Beret won the $122,000 Indian Maid Stakes here by four lengths, her strongest race of the season. The Cardinal is an important spot, a race in which Beret has a legitimate chance to earn a Grade 3 victory.

"I'd say she's at least as good now as she was last time," Williamson said. "She's been breezing pretty sharp."

Beret turns 6 on Jan. 1, but even should she win the Cardinal, the plan is to bring her back in 2005 for another season of racing.

"Her legs have held up real well," Williamson said.

Wiggins: Run or rest him?

Wiggins, who finished third as a strong favorite Saturday in the High Alexander Handicap, came out of the race in good condition and returned to the racetrack for training on Thursday. Now, trainer Tony Granitz has to determine whether to give Wiggins one more start this year or put him away until 2005.

"There's an allowance race at Mountaineer, but I don't know if we'll go there or give him the rest of the year off," Granitz said.

Lacer in field he should handle

None of the horses Lacer has unsuccessfully chased in his recent starts are showing up for Saturday's featured ninth race at Hawthorne. Lacer needs only to run his race to break through with his first victory of the season.

It is overdue. Lacer has gone 0 for 8, but has been second twice and third three times. His lone truly sub-par race was a sixth late in the summer at Arlington. Even when Lacer fired his best shot, he ran into a slightly superior opponent. In his last two starts, Lacer lost to Al's Dearly Bred by less than a length; before that, he was fourth behind Cloudy's Knight, a horse with graded-stakes-class ability at his best.

Sunday's feature is for third-level allowance horses or $35,000 claimers at a mile on turf. This is the time of year when Hawthorne starts thinking about putting an end to grass races for the season, but the way the weather has gone, Hawthorne could be running on turf until Christmas. The high temperature Thursday was in the mid-60's, but with the balmy weather was coming rain, and Saturday's race could wind up on wet dirt.

That would change everything, and with grass horses like Lacer probably out of the picture, the race could go to Flightofthebuffalo, who shows no sign of losing his peak form for trainer Bret Calhoun. Flightofthebuffalo has been first or second in five of six wet-track starts.