05/02/2007 11:00PM

Dream Rush returns in Nassau

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Dream Rush, who handed 2-year-old champion filly Dreaming of Anna her first defeat when she posted a front-running victory in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park in mid-winter, returns from a layoff as the one to beat in Saturday's $200,000 Nassau County Breeders' Cup, a Grade 2 sprint for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.

Dream Rush has won three of four starts for trainer Rick Violette Jr., beginning with a debut maiden win at Belmont last September, and a first-level allowance score at Churchill Downs in October. On the strength of those performances, she was installed as a 3-10 favorite for her seasonal bow in an allowance at Gulfstream, but was steadied along on the backstretch, boxed in on the turn, and finished second.

Three weeks later, however, Dream Rush rebounded to win the Old Hat decisively, despite breaking a step slow from the rail. Her three wins have come by a combined margin of nearly 13 lengths.

"She's a serious player," Violette said. "The only time she got beat, we were schooling her and she got dirt in her face. Her race in the Old Hat was obviously special (Beyer Speed Figure of 99), and she beat a real nice filly."

Following the Old Hat, Dream Rush was being pointed to the Grade 2 Forward Gal, but missed that start after spiking a temperature that caused her to miss several days of training. Violette also was considering the Beaumont or the La Troienne for her comeback, but after she came down with another 24-hour bug at Keeneland, he opted for the relative calm of Belmont over the La Troienne, which will be run in front of a large and raucous Derby crowd in Louisville.

"She's had a weak constitution so far - it doesn't take much for her to run a temperature or get a snotty nose," Violette said. "After winning a Grade 3, we'd kind of like to move up the ladder, and the Grade 2 is appealing. So is getting a prep for the Acorn (June 9). We are looking for bigger and better things with her, and with her pedigree we certainly think she can stretch out."

Also in the field are several other fillies that ran well at Gulfstream during the winter: Cash's Girl, Changeisgonnacome, Lady Marlboro, and Lia's Luck.

Lia's Luck earned a Beyer of 95 beating Cash's Girl in mid-March, a figure that was solidified when the latter won an overnight stake at Aqueduct next time out.