06/13/2004 11:00PM

Dorris battling back


CHICAGO - Tom Dorris has been training racehorses 30 years, and never has he gone through a slump like the one that closed in around his stable this spring. The losing was relentless, going on through the entire Hawthorne meet, and on into Arlington. Dorris, typically a 15-percent winner, has gone 8 for 120 in 2004, and that includes a recent upturn at the Arlington meet, where he has won 3 of 28. Even now, luck's wind has not gotten fully behind him - to go with the trio of Arlington winners are seven second-place finishes.

"That was a bad streak all right," Dorris said. "There's nothing really you can do. Just keep fighting it. Sometimes it gets you."

If there have been a few faint rays of hope, a brighter one has turned up Wednesday. The promising filly Leaseholder's Dream is back from an extended layoff in the eighth race. The second-level filly-and-mare sprint allowance goes as the co-feature with race 9, another second-level allowance, this one for males at one mile.

Leaseholder's Dream has five foes in a six-furlong race. Dorris, who had not yet seen the race's past performances, expressed concern about entries from trainers Bob Holthus and Carl Nafzger. And yes, both Kentucky-based outfits have runners from their Arlington strings in against Leaseholder's Dream, but it will take more than a second-stringer to beat this filly. In fact, her chief rival probably is another Chicago horse, Beautiful Bets, a 6 1/2-length winner of a first-level allowance in her most recent race.

Leaseholder's Dream raced once in the summer of 2002 at age 2, and then was put away for the better part of 10 months. She won her maiden with a sharp comeback race, struggled to come back into form, and then found her stride again later in the summer, easily winning a first-level allowance last Aug. 1 at Arlington. Then, she missed by a neck in the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Oaks, her first stakes start and first race around two turns.

But as Leaseholder's Dream was getting good, she was also going bad. "She just was getting a little sore all over, so we turned her out," Dorris said.

Leaseholder's Dream loves to work, and she has been burning up the track once a week or so. In six workouts dating to early May, all but the most recent, a simple three-furlong blowout for this start, have been bullets.