09/12/2008 12:00AM

Dream Rush runs for a rookie


It is not often that a trainer sends out his first starter in a $400,000 race, but that is exactly what will happen when Will Phipps saddles Dream Rush in the six-furlong Presque Isle Masters at the Erie, Pa., track on Saturday.

Phipps, 36, was an assistant for trainer Bill Mott for five years before taking time off this April to be with his family. Owner Halsey Minor asked Phipps to evaluate the Grade 1 winner Dream Rush, and he took over her training a little less than a month ago from Richard Violette. Violette had trained Dream Rush to Grade 1 wins in the Test and Prioress last year, and she also won the Grade 2 Nassau County Breeders' Cup.

This year, she finished second in the Grade 1 Vagrancy and third in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney before Phipps took over her training.

"I am in a good spot," Phipps said. "Halsey and his mom, Suzie, thought of retiring her and asked me to evaluate her and see how she does. All is well. I appreciate them giving me the opportunity."

Dream Rush has been working well over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga, posting a bullet four-furlong work of 48 seconds on Monday. When asked Wednesday how she came out of the work, Phipps answered with a laugh, "We are on the road to Presque Isle right now, so she came out of it great." He then added, "She was on the bridle and doing it all on her own. She couldn't be better right now."

Dale Beckner, the first jockey to win six races on an eight-race card at Presque Isle last Saturday, will ride Dream Rush for the first time.

The horse to beat in the Masters is last year's winner, Miss Macy Sue, who is trained by Kelly Von Hemel. She set a track record of 1:08.21 for six furlongs over the Tapeta surface in that race, a record that still stands. This year, Miss Macy Sue has run second in the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill on May 26, won the $100,000 Saylorville at Prairie Meadows on June 27, and then finished fourth in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga after encountering trouble at the half-mile pole.

In the Saylorville, Miss Macy Sue posted her best lifetime Beyer Speed Figure, a 105, which no other horse entered in the Masters has been able to duplicate. Eddie Razo Jr. retains the mount.