10/13/2003 11:00PM

Traveling man staying put for now


CHICAGO - By Eddie Martin's reckoning, he has ridden at 30 racetracks this season. The actual number is 19, but at some point you lose count. Martin's year began at Fair Grounds before he moved on to Lone Star and, later in the summer, Delaware.

"Delaware's ancient history," Martin said Monday afternoon. "We're a permanent fixture at Hawthorne right now."

Permanent until late November, at least, when Martin will journey south for his annual run at Fair Grounds. And permanent in the sense that he is here at the moment, even if two months ago, Martin, who has spent this time of year in Kentucky before, might not have expected his fall afternoons to be unfolding in heavily industrialized Stickney, Ill.

But Martin will go where his business takes him. And he has picked up plenty of business at Hawthorne, notching seven wins in 41 starts here, good for a tie for fourth in the jockey standings. That is just the gravy on his plate.

"I'm here right now because my first-call client is here," Martin said. The client is Bret Calhoun, whose stable has surged to more than 100 horses this year. And there is one of them in particular that Martin wants to keep riding, the 2-year-old Cactus Ridge, who will take Martin to the Breeders' Cup for the first time since 1999, when he finished ninth in the Juvenile with a colt named Charlie's Beau.

"Where that horse goes, I go," said Martin, who worked Cactus Ridge last Saturday and will be aboard for another work this Saturday. "I think I'm going to win the Breeders' Cup. I don't want to sound like I'm getting too high, but I just like this horse so much."

Martin said Cactus Ridge's last breeze was outstanding, that the colt will turn on and off as Martin asks. "There's no doubt he's going to have to run to his limitations next time, but he's ready to do that. I'm 100 percent secure with my mount in that race."

Cactus Ridge leaves in the middle of next week for Santa Anita. Martin will follow him a day or two later. Another cross-country flight, and another racetrack for Martin.

Derby coming up strong

The Hawthorne Gold Cup got Perfect Drift and Tenpins, but Saturday's Hawthorne Derby should be the best race, top to bottom, of the fall-winter meet. As of Tuesday, a field of 12 was expected for the $250,000 Derby, which is run at nine furlongs on turf, and the prospective starters include the top 3-year-old grass horses Lismore Knight, Remind, and Foufa's Warrior. Add to those proven stakes horses the improving False Promises, perhaps the best local hope, and other talented shippers from both coasts.

Lismore Knight comes off his worst finish of the year, a sixth in the Grade 3 Jamaica Handicap on Sept. 21 at Belmont.

"It was his worst finish, but it wasn't that bad a race," said trainer Todd Pletcher, who blamed the disappointing showing on an unfavorable trip.

Remind is returning just two weeks after he impressively won the $75,000 Storm Cat at Keeneland.

"Given that this is one of the last 3-year-old turf races on the schedule, we're willing to take the chance that he's had enough time between starts," said trainer Bill Mott.

Undefeated Dixieland Gulch in feature

It takes talent for a horse to begin its career with consecutive wins, but some luck helps, too. Dixieland Gulch has had both so far. A 3-year-old filly owned and bred by Arthur Appleton and trained by Mickey Goldfine, Dixieland Gulch showed speed from the rail in her career debut July 27, and she was fortunate to run on one of the few days Arlington's main track promoted inside front-runners. Even with that boost, Dixieland Gulch was impressive drawing away from a more seasoned pace rival to win by 1 3/4 lengths, and she was an even easier winner over first-level allowance horses on Sept. 4 at Arlington.

Her luck is holding, and Dixieland Gulch's talent should carry her to a third straight win in Hawthorne's featured seventh race on Thursday. For second-level allowance horses at 6 1/2 furlongs, the race drew a field of seven.

Dixieland Gulch almost certainly is the most talented of them, and with a favorable post and a fast work over Hawthorne's sometimes tricky track surface, she should notch another win.

Summer Mis headed to Aqueduct

The Illinois-bred filly Summer Mis ventured out of state last Sunday, and came home with a victory in Keeneland's Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America, the first graded stakes win for her and her trainer, Tony Mitchell. It was not easy. Coming from just off the pace, Summer Mis won by a head and was part of a four-horse photo.

"I always wondered how she'd respond if she got in a stretch duel, and now I know," Mitchell said late Sunday afternoon, hoarse but still elated.

Mitchell trains a small string in Chicago, mainly for the owner Richard Otto, who bred and owns Summer Mis. The operation's focus has been on getting Otto's mares black type for his breeding program, making Sunday's win a major success.

Mitchell said plans call for Summer Mis to start next in the Grade 2 Top Flight, a mile race on Nov. 28 at Aqueduct.