02/12/2009 12:00AM

Dream Play may benefit from last


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Having made just two starts, Dream Play is the least experienced runner in Saturday's Dearly Precious Stakes at Aqueduct.

But watch a replay of her last race, a first-level allowance at Aqueduct on Jan. 11 in which she had an unfortunate trip, and it is apparent she gained a seasoning in that race that none of her opponents has experienced.

Making her first start since a May 15 maiden victory at Belmont Park, Dream Play broke a step slowly and was immediately bumped. Then, as is often the case when a horse leaves the gate behind the field, the horses that outbroke her moved into her path.

Eager to run with no place to go, jockey Rajiv Maragh had no choice but to take a hold of the filly, whose prior start had been a wire-to-wire win. Boxed in traffic, she ate dirt behind horses.

A lightly raced, comebacking filly, she had every right to quit. She did not. Instead, she rallied mildly to be fourth, finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind runner-up Liza Too, the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Dearly Precious.

Now in her second start off a layoff, she should jump forward with a clean trip.

A short field of five will limit value, but with the betting public expected to hammer Liza Too, in part because of trainer Rick Dutrow going 7 for his last 12 with first-time Lasix runners, the odds should be respectable on Dream Play.

Eddie Castro rides Dream Play in the Dearly Precious for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Oaklawn: 'Meadow' eyes rebound

Maren's Meadow doesn't own the highest last-race or career-best Beyer Speed Figure in Saturday's Pippin Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Nice Inheritance is the leader in figures, having posted a 94 Beyer in winning the Retama Distaff on Jan. 24.

Yet Maren's Meadow is the class of the field. A two-time graded stakes winner, she comes off a deceptively good prep in the six-furlong American Beauty Stakes on Jan. 17 at Oaklawn - a race that should set her up for the return to a route.

Although beaten in the American Beauty, the race was one of her best. Facing a quality group of female sprinters, she raced evenly in third from start to finish, unable to catch the top two, Rated Fiesty and Palanka City, who raced as a team virtually from start to finish.

That duo set fractions of 22.74 seconds and 46.61, resulting in no horse being able to make up much ground, and Rated Fiesty squeaked out a head victory over Palanka City with six furlongs in a swift 1:10.47.

Maren's Meadow, who raced three wide in the American Beauty, easily galloped out past Rated Fiesty and Palanka City shortly past the wire, suggesting she is ready for the stretch out in distance to the 1 1/16-mile Pippin.

Drawn outside the other speed in the Pippin, jockey Terry Thompson can sit chilly on Maren's Meadow, allowing her to get in a comfortable gallop - either going to the lead or sitting in an easy, pace-pressing position.

Her class should carry her to victory from there.

Laurel: Bullsbay should offer value

Racing in the Jan. 31 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, Bullsbay turned in a dismal performance, ending up eased across the wire by John Velazquez after the horse began to retreat on the second turn.

On the heels of that non-effort, some horseplayers will balk at the prospect of betting him Saturday in the John B. Campbell Handicap at Laurel Park.

I, on the other hand, view him as a promising wager. Coming off such a poor performance, the public may avoid him to some extent, creating value on a talented horse that is confidently brought back on two weeks' rest by a skilled horseman in trainer Graham Motion.

Had something been amiss with Bullsbay, Motion would have given him the time to get back on track. This is a trainer, after all, that had Better Talk Now competing at a Grade 1 level last year as a 9-year-old.

So by quickly running him and shipping him north to Laurel, his actions are suggesting the Donn is a toss-out - and Bullsbay is ready to return to form. If so, he can win the Campbell. Bullsbay was impressive in winning a pair of allowances on dirt at Churchill Downs in the fall, and in early January, he was a fine second in the 14-horse Hal's Hope Stakes at Gulfstream, beaten three lengths behind Delightful Kiss.

Jeremy Rose, Motion's go-to jockey at Laurel, rides.