07/14/2010 5:23PM

Winning combination not carved in stone


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Michael Baze, who came to Chicago from California for the Arlington Park meeting, currently sits second in the Arlington jockey standings, trailing leading rider Junior Alvarado 52 wins to 45. Wayne Catalano, meanwhile, is perched atop the Arlington trainer standings, with 30 wins to 28 for Nick Canani. It has been Baze aboard 24 of those 30 Catalano winners. Other riders have combined to go 6 for 45 riding for Catalano. Catalano also played a part in Baze even moving to the Midwest this summer, but this past weekend, Catalano confirmed that Baze will occupy a less prominent roll in his operation going forward.

“We just need to shake things up a little bit, that’s all,” Catalano said. “He’s a good rider.”

Shane Sellers, who arrived in Chicago from Delaware Park last winter, will see his business with Catalano increase, Catalano said.

“He’s got the talent and he’s got the experience,” said Catalano. “There’s no substitute for that.”

Catalano entered horses for five races on Thursday’s card: Sellers is named on two of them, as is Florent Geroux – who has gotten slow but steady Catalano business this meet – with Inocencio Diego scheduled to ride the fifth horse. Only one Catalano-trained horse is in Friday, Nafir’s Lad, and Sellers has been named to ride him. Sellers had two winners and seven second-place finishes from 16 mounts during his first week riding at Arlington.

Canani files appeal

An attorney representing trainer Nick Canani has filed an appeal of the suspension, fine, and purse redistribution that resulted from a positive drug test on a Canani-trained Arlington winner earlier this meet.

Copper Forest, a winner on May 6 (and re-entered on Friday’s Arlington program), tested positive for etodolac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug categorized as a Class 3 medication with little chance of effecting a horse’s performance. Canani was suspended 15 calendar days and fined $1,000, and the race’s purse ordered redistributed.

Canani’s representatives also are in the process of requesting that a test be performed on a split sample taken from Copper Forest. Canani’s suspension was scheduled to start Sunday, but Canani will receive a 30-day stay to allow time for testing on the so-called referee sample to be completed. A hearing on the matter will be set for sometime after the 30-day stay period.

Canani trains solely for leading Arlington owner Frank Calabrese, and had won with 28 of 64 starters entering this racing week.

Arlington is paying for sensitive super-testing to be performed on all winners of its races this year, but according to Shelley Kalita, a lawyer for the Illinois Racing Board, the etodolac positive was called through a routine test rather than a super test.

Next spot uncertain for Upperline

Upperline came out of her win Saturday in the Arlington Oaks in “very good” condition, trainer Mike Stidham said, but only a longer-term goal for Upperline, the Grade 3 Pucker Up on Sept. 6, has been set.

“We’re pointing to the Pucker Up, but I’m not sure that will be her next start,” Stidham said. “We’re just starting to look around for what else might be possible.”

Upperline won for the first time this year in emphatically capturing the Oaks on Saturday evening.

On Sunday, Stidham scratched Tybalt from the Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs, with Tybalt instead shipping to Delaware Park for the $100,000 Sussex Stakes this weekend. Tybalt finished second in the Hanshin Cup here in his most recent start.

Stidham also said that Workin for Hops, winner of the Arlington Classic here May 22, remains on track for the American Derby on July 17. Tizaqueena, however, will bypass the Modesty Handicap that same day, and be pointed directly to the Grade 1 Beverly D. on Aug. 21.

Cap’n Meds the key

How good is Cap’n Meds? That’s a question handicappers must answer if they want to get involved in nominally featured race 6 on Friday at Arlington, an entry-level Polytrack allowance restricted to Illinois-breds.

Cap’n Meds probably already ranks as the finest offspring of the sire Cap’n Capote, but the more pressing issue is where he ranks among the eight horses entered in Friday’s sixth. Cap’n Meds finished second in his career debut at Hawthorne, and second in his next start, which came on Arlington’s Polytrack. But he was second to no one in an Illinois-bred maiden race here June 25, ridden out by Chris Emigh to a 10-length victory.

Was that a breakthrough performance from Cap’n Meds, or merely the product of a decent horse having a good day against inferior competition? In his previous Arlington start, Cap’n Meds finished second with no apparent excuse to Shedrow Hero. Shedrow Hero, also in Friday’s race, came back to run sixth in an Illinois-bred “N1X” allowance, which takes a little of the luster of Cap’n Meds blowout maiden score.

The problem, though, is this: If not the Cap’n, then who? Rail-drawn Grey Knight seems unlikely, but none of the other six entries is an easy toss, with a mild nod going to Catalano-trained Nafir’s Lad, who tired last out after moving into a hot pace.