02/14/2009 1:00AM

Dream Play breaks well, sails home


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - A better start led to a better finish for Dream Play in Saturday's $69,160 Dearly Precious Stakes at Aqueduct.

In a fourth-place finish in a first-level allowance race here last month, Dream Play broke flat-footed, raced in traffic, and finished fourth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths.

Saturday, Dream Play broke much better under Eddie Castro, then dueled inside of Chattertown through fractions of 23.32 and 46.99 seconds before running away from that rival in upper stretch and drawing clear to an 8 1/4-length victory. Chattertown held second, a half-length over the 4-5 favorite, Liza Too. Spina and Listentothewindblo completed the order of finish.

The win was the second from three career starts for Dream Play, a 3-year-old daughter of Hennessy who brought $325,000 at the Fasig-Tipton 2-year-olds-in-training sale last February at Calder.

Castro said Dream Play "broke good today, relaxed the first part. When I got to the quarter pole she had a nice kick."

Dream Play, owned by Stewart Armstrong and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, covered six furlongs in 1:10.86 and returned $7 as the second choice.

Dream Play won her debut last May at Belmont, but then sustained an ankle injury that sidelined her for the remainder of the year, according to Larkin Armstrong, son of Stewart. McLaughlin told Stewart Armstrong that he felt Dream Play ran a pretty decent race in her last start despite the poor break.

"She didn't break that well but still finished strong, and Kiaran told my dad that she'd be really tough when she came back," Larkin Armstrong said. "So we were thrilled to see her run like she did."

Dream Play could be a candidate for the Grade 3, $100,000 Cicada Stakes here on March 14.

* In the first week of its $250,000-guaranteed late pick-four pool, Aqueduct handled $339,363 on the wager Saturday. It was the highest handle of the bet by $60,000 this meet.

"We are just trying to create some awareness,'' the New York Racing Association's president, Charlie Hayward, said. "At least for February and March it's a way to get attention."