08/05/2007 12:37AM



--Dream Rush is one nice sprinting filly and she demonstrated it again winning Saturday's G1 Test Stakes by a comfortable 2 1/4 lengths. It was the second straight Grade 1 victory for the daughter of Wild Rush following her romp in the Prioress last month, and stamped her a top contender for both the new Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint race and the new Eclipse Award that will be given this year to the nation's champion filly sprinter.

She outbroke and then outran Akronism, the other speed of the race, and pulled clear with no urging while carving out legitimate fractions of 22.26 and 44.59, then extending to a five-length lead after six furlongs in 1:08.94. She was understandably tiring after that and needed 13.48 for her final furlong, but the outcome was never in doubt. She earned a Beyer of 101 for her effort, her fourth straight triple-digit one.

The sizzling fractions and slow final furlong flattered runner-up Boca Grande, but it was a breakthrough effort for her. Last year's Demoiselle winner had been slow to improve this season and was dull finishing a distant 4th in the Acorn and a fading third in the Mother Goose without exceeding her figures as a 2-year-old. Here, however, she jumped up from a previous career best Beyer of 85 to post a 97 in the Test. Her dam, Country Hideaway, is a half-sister to Pleasant Home, who won the 2005 Breeders' Cup Distaff at 31-1 in a similar late-blooming effort. Boca Grande, who responded to first-time pilot Julien Leparoux's letting her make one big run, is a dangerous filly for the fall.

--Majestic Warrior, a Kinsman Stable 2-year-old firster who won the 2nd race Saturday in his racing debut for Bill Mott, is a son of A. P. Indy and Dream Supreme, who won the 2000 Test (and Ballerina). He's also a full brother to A. P. Dream, a 3-year-old filly who is the favorite in Sunday's third at Saratoga.

--The other stakes race on the card, the restricted $80k Glow for 3-year-olds who had not won an open stakes on the grass this year, went to Pays to Dream, who carried the colors of the late Allan Dragone's Decmber Hill Farm. Iron horse Teuflesberg, prepping for the King's Bishop Aug. 25, ran second in a blanket finish where it was only 3 1/2 lengths from first to last in a nine-horse field. Teuflesberg's defeat ran trainer Jamie Sanders's record this year to 3-for-171. Outside of Teuflesberg, she is 1-for-163.

--Can you stand my first bad-beat whine of the meeting? It wasn't even at Saratoga. I played the four-percent-takeout Ellis Park pick-four, which included the two biggest Claiming Crown races. Had One-Eyed Joker in the first leg, the Claiming Crown Emerald, at $44.40. Had Miami Sunrise in leg two, the Jewel, at $13.40, and Mallabar at $7.60 in the next. What an easy game. I was alive to the only two horses who could possibly win the finale. Only they didn't, running second (by a nose) and third to an $8.80 winner who completed a pick-four worth $19,507.40 for $2. Rats.

The payoff illustrates the value of lower betting minimums. The Ellis pick four is available at a 50-cent minimum and the announced payoff was $4876.85 for 50 cents. That slips just under the $5,000 threshhold for IRS withholding, so anyone who hit it on a 50-cent ticket got to keep the whole payoff. At a $1 minimum and a $9753.70 return, $2,438.40 would have been withheld. This is what would have happened to me had I been so unfortunate as to hit it, because if you bet through NYRA, you are not permitted to make bets of less than $1, even on simulcast tracks that offer 50-cent pick-fours and 10-cent supers.

The last time I ranted about this in a column, and blamed the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for not enacting lower minimums, Board chairman Dan Hogan told me that he was unaware of any state regulations mandating a $1 minimum bet and that this was NYRA's and not the state's policy. If so, it needs to be changed immediately.

--Zyxt, the topic of a previous post, finished 11th at 67-1 in Saturday's 8th race. He did, however, improve on his debut Beyer Speed Figure of 39 while earning a figure of 55 in defeat.