06/12/2002 11:00PM

Two clear standouts in top-flight allowance


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Yes, it's a little strange that a June weekend at Arlington goes by without a stakes. But Saturday's featured eighth race is close enough.

Eight fillies and mares face off in this high-end turf allowance, which is written for horses who haven't won more than $9,805 twice since Feb. 1.

It's a good spot for stakes-level horses without a specific stakes race on the agenda this month, horses like Golden Antigua and Twilight Tryst.

These two are the most logical winners in a fine field that includes a two-horse entry from owner Russell Reineman and trainer Bobby Springer, the connections that brought us War Emblem. Pretty Gale, who probably is entered in case the race is rained onto dirt, is War Emblem's older half-sister.

Pretty Gale's stablemate, Lady of Peace, has run best the last two seasons at Fair Grounds, while the Niall O'Callaghan-trained Baldwina, a European stakes winner, hasn't raced since finishing 10th in the Grade 1 Matriarch in late November. Lady Angharad ran an improved race last month, but needs better to win, and Rubikisses has never tried turf.

That leaves it between Golden Antigua and Twilite Tryst, who are difficult to separate.

Both horses come off wins at Hawthorne's spring meet, the 5-year-old Golden Antigua in an overnight stakes, Twilight Tryst in an allowance race.

Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano claimed Golden Antigua two winters ago for $65,000, and she has since won four races and about $150,000. "She's been very good to us," Catalano said. "All I can say is she's running good and she's training good."

Good enough to beat Twilight Tryst? Maybe. Twilight Tryst has started only once at age 4, and she is likely to move forward off her seasonal debut, when she won by a neck for owner Jess Rutledge and trainer Hugh Robertson. In her last start as a 3-year-old, Twilight Tryst missed by only a nose to the good turf filly La Recherche in the $100,000 Pago Hop at Fair Grounds.

There is no pace in this race and Twilight Tryst, who has a good burst of acceleration, might move on the far turn and get the jump on Golden Antigua, who tends to wear horses down in the stretch.

Taking it easy with Slider

The connections of Slider - trainer Dick Lundy and owners Kuehne Racing and Steve Knight - decided to pass on Saturday's Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, a race Lundy said last week he was considering.

It doesn't mean Lundy feels Slider can't compete with top-class company, but Saturday's Foster was going to be an especially tough spot for Slider.

"It ended up the plusses outweighed the minuses," Lundy said.

Slider has won both starts since Lundy began training him in April. Neither was a stakes, but a Keeneland allowance win opened eyes, since Slider ran seven furlongs in 1:22 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 120.

Lundy said the best part of that race was Slider's final quarter-mile, and when Slider finished strongly in a subsequent work, Lundy gave Slider his first chance in a two-turn race last month. The gelding responded by winning a high-class allowance at Churchill, and his performance gave rise to the Foster flirtation, which, if nothing else, shows how good Lundy thinks this horse might be.

Slider worked a strong six furlongs since his allowance win, a breeze that doesn't appear on his past performance lines. He'll run again soon, though Lundy won't commit to a particular race. Slider is being considered for the Hanshin Handicap, a one-turn mile here July 20, but, said Lundy, "he'll run before then."

U S S Tinosa to miss Classic

U S S Tinosa, who finished sixth in the Preakness last month, missed a few days of training with an illness last week and won't make the June 29 Arlington Classic, the race trainer Jerry Hollendorfer had targeted for the colt. Hollendorfer said U S S Tinosa has returned to training now, and he could still race here this summer in another 3-year-old turf stakes.

In the meantime, Hollendorfer has come up with a substitute for the Arlington Classic, Cappuchino, who won his turf debut last weekend, taking a listed race at Bay Meadows.

"I'll probably fly him out here pretty soon," Hollendorfer said.

Population rising

The 93 horses entered on Saturday's card - an average of 9.3 per race - are by far the most on any program so far this meet. Horses continue to trickle into the Arlington backstretch, and there still are many empty stalls, especially those of Churchill Downs-based horsemen. But Friday's rush to the entry box provided welcome relief for a racing office that has scrambled to put together programs.

"Hopefully things are picking up," said racing secretary Dave Bailey.

In the ninth race, a six-furlong maiden race for Illinois-breds, Arlington has its first full field under new rules that permit a maximum gate of 14 starters at most distances on dirt.