03/25/2006 12:00AM

Yesterday Evening's barn is hot


CHICAGO - Brian Williamson is hitting Wayne Catalano territory, his win percentage at the National Jockey Club meet soaring into the stratosphere.

Catalano and his main owner, Frank Calabrese, tear through the Arlington season, Catalano regularly sustaining 40-percent win clips for months at a stretch. A month into the National Jockey Club meet, Williamson is winning with almost 45 percent of his starts.

He had 11 victories through Friday, when the highly touted first-time starter My Chickadee scored an impressive last-to-first victory in a six-furlong sprint. And on Saturday's card, Williamson won two in a row, taking the third with the $14,000 claimer Red Cross and the featured fourth with Air Academy, who won for the second time at the meet, beating favored No Tolerance and the stakes horse Nkosi Reigns in a high-end allowance race.

Williamson could easily add to his win total with Yesterday Evening at Hawthorne on Tuesday in the featured eighth race, a second-level Illinois-bred allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Williamson has plenty of Illinois-breds. His wife, Lyda, is the daughter of Harvey and Nancy Vanier, for decades major players on the Illinois racing and breeding scene. Yesterday Evening, while bred outside the Vanier family fold, was sired by the old Vanier horse Western Playboy, and Nancy Vanier is a co-owner.

Yesterday Evening has two straight second-place finishes in races much like the Tuesday feature, and bettors shopping for value may look to other horses, though Yesterday Evening is an obvious contender. The mere name of Catalano draws extra money on this circuit, and the same thing has been noted in recent weeks with Williamson-trained horses. Red Cross, for instance, looked like a fringe contender in Saturday's third, but was bet well below her morning-line odds, paying $7 to win as the favorite.

Yesterday Evening's recent close-but-no-cigar finishes may be a function of distance: His two wins came last year in one-turn miles at Arlington. With that configuration, Yesterday Evening has a snappy little stretch punch, but at two turns his stretch run becomes more of a slog.

Just behind Yesterday Evening in a race here March 9 was Holy City, and he is the pick to turn the tables on Tuesday. Holy City has raced around two turns just four times, and always has run well over a route of ground. He overcame a wide trip to win an Illinois-bred entry-level allowance on Feb. 26, and was back on short rest when he faded slightly in deep stretch, settling for third just behind Yesterday Evening.