07/15/2002 11:00PM

Trujillo is still in the building


CHICAGO - The period that comes just after a jockey loses his apprentice weight allowance is supposed to be difficult, but so far, Elvis Trujillo has navigated it without so much as a scratch.

Yes, Trujillo was shut out Sunday, but that was the exception to his first week as a journeyman. Last Wednesday, his first day riding without the bug, Trujillo won three races, including the first race on the program. He followed that performance with a win each of the next three days - six wins during a week when he was supposed to struggle.

It has been that way since Trujillo left Southern California and began riding at Arlington on June 7, the third day of this meet.

Trujillo, represented at Arlington by the agent Harry Hacek, won with his first mount here. He leads the meet in riding triples and has totaled 39 wins, only six fewer than leading rider Rene Douglas and 16 more than Chris Emigh, the third-leading rider.

"He's just a natural," said the California-based trainer Wesley Ward, who was instrumental in getting Trujillo started in California.

Trujillo left California to help ease his transition from apprentice to journeyman, and his hot start here did not happen by accident. Steve Leving, stable manager for Arlington's leading owner Frank Calabrese, helped get Trujillo to Chicago, Calabrese has supported Trujillo with a steady diet of winners - 12 to be exact.

At first, Calabrese's trainer, the former jockey Wayne Catalano, took a wait-and-see attitude, but he said he's confident in Trujillo's riding now. "He seems to be in a good spot all the time," Catalano said. "He's settled down, got the jitters out that he had at first."

Trujillo still speaks little English, and there may be tougher times ahead, but with his fast start he has made inroads into many major outfits, including Jerry Hollendorfer's. Wednesday, Trujillo rides six of the nine races and has mounts for Catalano and J.R. Smith Sr. He also will ride the live Kentucky shipper Devillious.

Jazz Beat, an American contender

Two summers ago Pine Dance, a lightly campaigned Irish colt trained by Dermot Weld, shipped overseas to win the American Derby by 1 1/2 lengths. Sunday, Jazz Beat, a lightly campaigned Irish colt trained by Dermot Weld, will try to do the same thing.

Pine Dance remained in the U.S. after his American Derby win, racing for nine months as a useful stakes horse, and one assumes Jazz Beat will follow the same course. The course of Jazz Beat's career also harks back to Pine Dance's, though with only three races Jazz Beat has started half as many times.

Pine Dance, Weld said after the American Derby, had "one quiet run" as a 2-year-old - a chance for a young horse to taste racing without being worn down during a long campaign. So too with Jazz Beat, who won his career debut last August, then was put away until June 21, when he easily won an allowance race. The performance earned Jazz Beat a trip to Ascot, where he was fifth of 13 in a 10-furlong stakes.

His overseas form makes Jazz Beat a major contender Sunday. Cinema Handicap winner Inesperado, one of about eight horses expected for the race, probably will be favored.

Slider goes in Hanshin

Trainer Dick Lundy confirmed Monday that Slider will start Saturday in the Grade 3 Hanshin Cup.

One of the top Beyer Speed Figure horses of this season, Slider has run fast without winning a stakes. On July 6 he finished a close fourth in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows. There, he dueled on a fast pace and opened up a clear lead, but was collared in midstretch. At nine furlongs, the race pushed Slider's stamina to the limit.

"Maybe that's a little farther than he wants to go," said Lundy, who has succeeded in getting Slider to relax and finish strongly in his races. "I still think he's a real nice horse. Maybe I got a little too aggressive stretching him out that far."

The one-turn mile of the Hanshin seems like a perfect fit for Slider, and Lundy has kept the race in mind for a couple months. "I'd be more concerned about him coming back in two weeks, but he had five or six weeks off before the Cornhusker," Lundy said.

Dancin Emi, what are you?

Dancin Emi won the first three starts of her career, and a powerful win on opening day of the 2001 Arlington meet showed her to be one of the most exciting 3-year-old fillies on the grounds.

But as good as those first three races were, the next three were equally bad, and when Dancin Emi returns to Arlington in Thursday's featured eighth race she must prove she still can muster the talent evidenced a year ago.

Dancin Emi's ended last year with a bad loss in the Singapore Plate Handicap. Sent to trainer Michael Dickinson, Dancin Emi raced one only once this season and was beaten 14 lengths in a Monmouth allowance race.

In Thursday's third-level allowance, Dancin Emi makes her first start for trainer Gene Cilio, and from the appearance of two sharp half-mile works at Arlington, she may return to form in a race only five other horses entered.