06/07/2007 12:00AM

Dream Rush stepping up in Acorn


ELMONT, N.Y. - Dream Rush is ready for her close-up. After being brought along patiently and prudently by trainer Rick Violette Jr., the once-beaten filly will be looking to stretch her speed to one mile, and secure her first Grade 1 victory, in the $250,000 Acorn Stakes on Saturday's Belmont Stakes undercard at Belmont Park.

Dream Rush has won 4 times in 5 starts, and has led from start to finish in her last two victories, including the seven-furlong Nassau County here on May 5. That speed will be put to the test again Saturday, because Dream Rush will have to break from the rail, with the race's other speed horse, Princess Janie, right alongside her.

Four other 3-year-old fillies are in the race, including such accomplished runners as Boca Grande, Christmas Kid, and Cotton Blossom. Officer in Pursuit, whose two wins came on Aqueduct's inner track, rounds out the field.

The rail is not usually the optimal spot for a one-turn mile, but at least Dream Rush won't be encountering something foreign. She has started from the rail or post 2 in four of her five races.

"If she was drawn outside, she might not know what to do," Violette joked from his Aqueduct barn Thursday morning.

"This is a good spot for her," Violette said. "I wish she did have an outside post. But she's doing great. She's ready to stretch out. It's a great spot on a great day."

Dream Rush has raced twice at Belmont Park and won both times. Although she has never raced farther than seven furlongs, her breeding should not trip her up. She is by Wild Rush, and is out of an Unbridled mare.

"She happens to be very fast, but her pedigree says she certainly should get a mile, and maybe a mile and an eighth, too," Violette said.

"We have been conservative with her, but it's in part because she has had a tendency to get little lung infections. That slowed us down, but maybe it was for the better."

If Dream Rush can't take the heat from Princess Janie, there are several rivals who will be waiting to pounce.

Christmas Kid won the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 7, then was kept out of the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks to point for this.

"You can't let her do too much early. You've got to bide your time," said Jimmy Jerkens, who trains Christmas Kid. "You've got to time her run."

Boca Grande was a powerful winner against maidens in a one-turn mile at Belmont last fall, and most recently captured the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct.

Cotton Blossom was in contention in the Kentucky Oaks, but she was stopped badly in the upper stretch.