12/30/2008 1:00AM

Are We Dreamin keeps on running


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Randi Persaud doesn't believe he ever rode a horse like Are We Dreamin in his 12-year riding career, which concluded in 2006. He can only hope that he gets another one like Are We Dreamin in his barn during the remainder of his training career.

When Are We Dreamin makes her 5-year-old debut in Thursday's $65,000 Interborough Stakes at Aqueduct, it will mark the 39th start of her career, all coming in a little more than 27 months. In fact, there have only been two calendar months in which she did not start since she finished fourth to Dream Rush in a maiden special weight race at Belmont on Sept. 24, 2006.

In 2008, while racing on the hotly competitive New York Racing Association circuit, Are We Dreamin made 19 starts, winning seven and finishing second or third an additional seven times. She earned $305,044. According to Equibase statistics, only Polo Bender, a 7-year-old gelding, had as much success racing with such frequency in 2008. Polo Bender won 9 of 19 races (earning $42,787) competing in mostly low-level claiming races at Emerald Downs and Prairie Meadows.

"She loves to run, she has heart, she's special," said Persaud, who took over the training of Are We Dreamin last February from his father, Atreo, who retired. "As soon as you put the saddle on her, she's ready to go. She loves to run, she loves to train."

Lately, she loves to win. Are We Dreamin will bring a two-race winning streak into the Interborough, including a game nose victory over Weathered in the You'd Be Surprised Stakes here Dec. 12. That race marked Are We Dreamin's first around two turns, which may explain why she went off at a generous 9-1.

"I loved her that day," Persaud said. "I don't have a clue why she paid 9-1. She won a 7 1/2-furlong race before that easy, and she had been training good. She knows where the wire is."

Are We Dreamin, a daughter of Yes It's True, was purchased for $65,000 by trainer Gary Contessa for owner Harold Lerner at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 2-year-old in training sale in April 2006. Are We Dreamin won a maiden race over the inner track on Jan. 18, 2007, her fifth career start.

But things did not go well for the filly after that. In her next start, she fell over another horse in a spill at Aqueduct. Contessa said the horse suffered only a pulled hind-end muscle, but that the incident may have taken more of a mental toll on her. She was beaten double-digit lengths in her next five races, which is why Contessa dropped her in for a $25,000 claiming price.

In her second start at that price, Are We Dreamin was claimed by owner Anthony Calabrese and trainer Atreo Persaud. In her second start for her new connections, Are We Dreamin won a $35,000 claiming race on turf at Belmont Park.

"We were very close to taking her back, but we didn't all quite agree," Contessa said.

Are We Dreamin lost her next five starts before winning a starter allowance race over the inner track on Feb. 21. That was her last start for Atreo Persaud. Six days later, Randi Persaud was her trainer.

Persaud, a native of Guyana, came to the United States with his family in 1992 and began working for trainer Kristina Dupps. According to Daily Racing Form statistics, Persaud began riding here in 1994 and won just 99 races from 1,165 starts before retiring in 2006. Persaud had one good year in the saddle, in 1996 when he won 66 races, 58 of them at Philadelphia Park, where he finished 12th in the rider standings.

Persaud said he always knew he would go into training, and early in 2008 he became a trainer, taking over the stable from his father. In 2008, Persaud won 23 races from 175 starters. Persaud also is part owner of virtually all of the 19 horses in his care at Aqueduct. He is the P in C P Racing Stable along with Anthony Calabrese.

"Riding is easier; training there's a lot of stress and worry," said Persaud. "But I love to be with the horses and work with them. I grew up with the horses, I can spend more time with the horses. It's a lot of work, but I enjoy it."

When you get to train one like Are We Dreamin, it's hard not to enjoy.