01/03/2009 1:00AM

Dream Rush no longer pure speed


OLDSMAR Fla. - Dream Rush, who turned in one of the strongest performances of the meeting in an allowance sprint last time out, moves to stakes company for the first time since racing in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in Saturday's $65,000 Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The six-furlong race drew a field of 10 fillies and mares.

Dream Rush made only five starts in 2008 and kept top company all season. She led until the final strides of the Grade 2 Vagrancy at Belmont in May, ran third in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney at Calder in July, and third again in the $400,000 Presque Isle Masters in September.

In the seven-furlong BC Filly and Mare Sprint over the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita, Dream Rush raced close to the pace and faded to 12th.

"She certainly was in tough that race," said trainer Bill Phipps, "but like a lot of horses, I don't think she liked the surface at all. It's the only time she's finished that far back in any of her races."

In her last race, which came here on Dec. 13, Dream Rush was rated just off the pace of the six-furlong race by jockey Daniel Centeno. She swung outside at the quarter pole to go after the leaders, and went on to post a three-quarter-length win in 1:10.54.

Dream Rush had been a speed sort who often led early in her races, and Phipps said the new running style was by design.

"We've been having her rate behind horses in the morning and kick on through the lane," he said. "The more lucrative and higher-graded races for older fillies and mares are going longer, and being able to have her conserve some energy will make her a better racemare in the long run."

Centeno will return aboard Dream Rush.

One of the more intriguing entrants in the Minaret is Rising Fever, a winner of 6 of 7 starts, including a Group 2 stakes winner in her native Brazil. She will be making her U.S. debut for trainer Christophe Clement.

Luis Gonzalez is named on Rising Fever, who gets the bleeder medication Lasix for the first time Saturday.

Others worth watching include Victorianna, a stakes winner at Arlington Park last summer, and Fearless Leader, a three-time winner last year using strong speed.

Star Operator, a five-time winner who has been racing in Canada, will be making her first start for the Kirk Ziadie barn and has been training smartly for her Tampa debut.