The ‘Cat’ is on the prowl again. One day after Arlington’s runner-up all-time leading trainer Wayne Catalano completed a fruitless journey to Saratoga to watch his “best horse in the race get beat,” Arlington’s often leading conditioner returned to his Chicago home base to saddle four winners on Thursday’s nine-race program.

It has been almost exactly four years since any Arlington conditioner saddled a win quartet at the local oval. Not surprisingly, it was Catalano who accomplished the feat that time as well. Also not surprisingly, Catalano’s banner afternoon gave him a three-win lead in the trainer standings entering Friday’s program.

The native of New Orleans, Louisiana, saddled Coffeepot Stables’ Imposing Grace to win Thursday’s opener and completed a sweep of the Daily Double by taking the second race with Mike Anderson Racing’s Awesome Gisel.

Catalano, who celebrated his 56th birthday Tuesday, came back to the winner’s circle after the eighth with Jayde Inc.’s Promise Me Joy and then swept the late double by winning the finale with Polivka Equine Holding’s Millennium Star.

On Wednesday, Catalano made a quick trip to Saratoga to saddle Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Stephanie’s Kitten in the Grade II Lake George Stakes. The daughter of Kitten’s Joy, who posted back-to-back victories last fall in Keeneland’s Grade I Alcibiades and Churchill’s Grade II Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, brushed the rail shortly after the start and then was blocked consistently for a sixteenth of a mile in the stretch run. She finished fourth while beaten a half-length for the win.

Since winning his first Arlington training title in 2000, Catalano has captured nine training titles at Arlington and established Arlington’s single season win mark in 2010 by saddling 75 winners during that summer session.

JOCKEY MIGUEL MENA MAKES HIS MARK SCORING THURSDAY TRIPLE
Peruvian-born jockey Miguel Mena, who brought his tack to Chicago following Churchill’s spring session, scored a “hat trick” on Thursday’s Arlington program.


The 25-year-old native of Lima, Peru, began his three-win afternoon in the sixth race astride Adele Dilschneider’s 2-year-old first time starter Custody for trainer Al Stall, Jr., won the eighth race aboard Jayde Inc.’s Promise Me Joy for conditioner Wayne Catalano and then swept Thursday’s late daily double with a win on Polivka Equine Holding’s Millennium Star, once again for Catalano.

Mena, who has developed into one of the nation’s top up and coming riders over the last few years, first came to Arlington as a 17-year-old apprentice in 2004. He finished fifth in the final Churchill Downs jockey standings this spring, and was third in Fair Grounds’ final jockey standings last winter, where he also enjoyed a five-win day.

Although he has won a jockey championship at Presque Isle Down in Erie, Pennsylvania, Mena has also enjoyed success at western Kentucky’s Ellis Park and upstate New York’s Saratoga in recent summers.

Thursday’s hat trick at Arlington gave Mena 98 wins for the year and 1,166 for his career, which includes 40 wins in Peru before his arrival in this country. He began his career in South Florida at Calder Race Course before coming to Arlington that summer.

Mena grew up idolizing his celebrated countryman Edgar Prado. When Prado was still riding in Peru, he rode in races with Mena’s father. The elder Mena retired from his own riding career to become a trainer.