10/06/2008 11:00PM

Dreamsandvisions a lucrative claim


For trainer Steven Duke, a gut feeling has turned $2,500 into $500,000.

The $2,500 is what he paid for Dreamsandvisions, who improved his career earnings to $501,371 Saturday night when he shipped from his Louisiana Downs base and scored an upset in the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame at Retama Park.

Duke purchased Dreamsandvisions as a 2-year-old. The horse is now 6.

"I went to the breeder's pasture and bought him right out of it," said Duke, 55. "He just kind of had a look in his eyes. He just kind of stared at me, wouldn't take his eyes off of me, just to say 'I'm badder than you.' He wasn't shy. I told my wife, he looks like a racehorse."

Dreamsandvisions has won five stakes for Duke's wife, Sandra, including the $150,000 Evangeline Mile in 2006. His win in the Hall of Fame, at 1 1/16 miles on turf, was his first victory since the $45,000 Spring Stakes at Sam Houston in March 2007. He paid $53.

"We said he had a flashback to the past," said Duke.

Duke has done a few things different of late with Dreamsandvisions, who entered the Hall of Fame off a fourth-place finish to Jonesboro in the $150,000 Tiznow at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20. A closer, he rallied from about four lengths off the pace to win Saturday.

"We weren't quite as far back as normal," said Duke. "We put him in the race a little earlier."

Dreamsandvisions will be pointed toward the $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes, which will be run at Sam Houston Race Park on Dec. 6. The 1 1/16-mile race will be run on the main track as the traditional feature on Texas Champions Day.

"He's just a little better horse on the dirt," said Duke.

Duke, who earlier in his life owned Quarter Horses, began training Thoroughbreds about six years ago after retiring from 30 years of working for Cooper Tires in Texarkana, Ark. But before setting up shop at Louisiana Downs, he did spend a short time as the justice of the peace in Atlanta, Texas.

"That's something everyone should try at least once," Duke said with a smile.

Following the meet, Duke will be based at Delta Downs.

Lord of the Game working in Louisiana

Lord of the Game, winner of a Grade 2 stakes as well as $539,920, turned up on the work tab at the Evangeline Downs Training Center in Lafayette on Saturday, going three-furlongs in 37.60 seconds. Lord of the Game, who has a history of tendon troubles, has not raced since finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Fayette at Keeneland on Oct. 29, 2005.

For most of his career, Lord of the Game, 7, was based in the Midwest with trainer Tom Tomillo. He is now in Louisiana with trainer Keith Bourgeois. William Slevin still owns Lord of the Game.

"He had sent me some horses last winter for Delta Downs, and he was one of them in the package," said Bourgeois. "I'm glad to have him. I know he hasn't run since 2005. They had to start and stop on him a couple of times."

Bourgeois said he was pleased with Lord of the Game's first breeze back, and he plans to run him in stakes in this region. He said the earliest the horse would be ready to run is December, at either Fair Grounds or Delta.

"When he's ready, we'll see where they have a race for him," said Bourgeois.

Slevin claimed Lord of the Game out of his career debut for $10,000 in December 2004. A gelding, he went on to win the Grade 2 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup and Grade 3 Hanshin Handicap in 2005. Lord of the Game is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Bluegrass Cat.

Big win for Pretty Squall

Dreamsandvisions was not the only horse who shipped from Louisiana Downs and pulled a stakes upset Saturday night at Retama. Pretty Squall paid $26, leading throughout to win the $50,000 Fiesta Mile.

"She finally ran the race I had been expecting from her all summer," said Morris Nicks, who trains Pretty Squall for her breeder, Don Eberts.

Pretty Squall had picked up checks in three starts at Louisiana Downs before heading to Retama. Nicks said she is a candidate for the $50,000 San Jacinto at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, which is scheduled to be run at Sam Houston on Dec. 6.