01/20/2003 1:00AM

Dream Run cranked off short rest

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Jack Murphy Sr. has spent much of his life building big things, having run one of the largest structured-steel companies in North America from his hometown of Boston.

But now that he is mostly retired, Murphy spends much of his time maintaining a racing stable.

"I have my son, Jack Jr., pretty much run the company now," said Murphy, whose company has been heavily involved in the "Big Dig," the $11 billion, multiyear project that is in the process of overhauling much of the infrastructure of downtown Boston. "I look over his shoulder every now and then, but I'm mostly busy with the horses."

Over the years, Murphy, whose best horse of all time was Formal Gold, has employed a number of different trainers, but now he mostly uses Mike Gorham, who also hails from Massachusetts. Murphy also has a handful of horses with Paul McGee, the Kentucky-based trainer who trains one of Murphy's top current horses, Dream Run.

Last February, Murphy met Dream Run and jockey Pat Day in the winner's circle following the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, a seven-furlong race that remains the horse's biggest career win. At 3, Dream Run finished fourth behind Monarchos in the 2001 Florida Derby, and Murphy said he "always wanted to try him going long since then."

Finally, in making his 5-year-old debut earlier this month at Gulfstream, Dream Run was entered in the Hal's Hope Handicap at 1 1/16 miles, only to fade to seventh after racing close to the early pace. "I guess that experiment is over," said Murphy.

Eleven days later, Dream Run will drop in class while shortening back to a distance that Murphy and McGee hope is more agreeable. Dream Run, who has earned more than $445,000 from 20 lifetime starts, is the probable favorite in the Wednesday feature at Gulfstream, a $46,000 classified allowance at six furlongs.

Ten older horses are entered in the ninth of 10 races, for which Dream Run drew post 7 with Day riding again.

Native Heir, representing the red-hot stable of Mike Gill and Mark Shuman, drew alongside in post 8 as one of the top challengers. Other contenders include Friendly Frolic, the longshot runner-up in the Jan. 4 Mr. Prospector Handicap, and Folkestone Park, an inconsistent but capable colt trained by Todd Pletcher.

One other allowance race, a $34,000 entry-level sprint for 3-year-old fillies, directly precedes the feature. A full field is entered.

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