08/17/2006 11:00PM

Irish Dreamer's speed difficult to match

Lone Star
Miss Mary Pat, winning the TTA Sales Futurity, is an off-the-pace threat in the Top Flight.

CHICAGO - Chris Richard, the young trainer who went out on his own last year after serving as an assistant to Tom Amoss, and years earlier as a trainer in the old Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale outfit, went into 2006 with, one could say, a compact string: Six horses, to be exact. Over the winter at Oaklawn, Richard said, his stable grew to eight or nine, but when the meet ended in April, Richard was back down to six.

Now, his Arlington shed row is practically overflowing with animals, compared to the lean winter, at least. There are 15 in the Richard barn, and two of them are in the Spectacular Bid, one of two 2-year-old overnight stakes preps Sunday for the Arlington-Washington Futurity and Arlington-Washington Lassie here next month.

In the interest of diplomacy, if nothing else, Richard talked positively of Biglie Smallworld, who has wound up in the seven-furlong Spectacular Bid for want of an appropriate entry-level allowance race. But it is Richard's other horse, Irish Dreamer, who will attract more attention Sunday. A $1,500 auction purchase owned by Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman, Irish Dreamer made his career debut July 21 and turned in one of the best maiden performances of the Arlington meet. Breaking from post 1, he jumped out to a quick early lead and held his opponents clear in the stretch, winning by two lengths with a snappy 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.20, good for an 86 Beyer Speed Figure.

"Irish Dreamer is just extremely fast," Richard said. "I can't imagine anyone out-footing him early. I could be wrong, but he's very quick. He leaves the gate like a Quarter Horse. The question mark with him is whether he can go that fast for seven-eighths. He sure acts like it, but we shall see."

Irish Dreamer has post 6 in a seven-horse field, meaning he's drawn outside the other speed horses in the race, Jack Grant and Officer Rocket. Officer Rocket could wind up favored over Irish Dreamer, having scored his own impressive Arlington maiden victory, winning by almost six lengths in his second career start and running six furlongs in 1:09.80. Officer Rocket trains at Churchill Downs with Bob Holthus, who also has a filly for the Top Flight Stakes later Sunday.

If all three pace horses hook up, Lovango has a chance. Lovango made his debut July 23 at Canterbury, and, racing from seventh place in a nine-horse field, he came between horses and drew off to win by five lengths.

"We think he's a pretty nice horse," said trainer Hugh Robertson, whose son Mac was the trainer of record in Lovango's first race. "He won easily up there, but that's Minnesota, and he beat some so-so maidens, but he's a nice, big colt, and he worked good here."

Blasi has threats on and off pace

The Top Flight for 2-year-old fillies also is at seven furlongs, and it drew a field of nine. Here, the trainer with two horses is Scott Blasi - Steve Asmussen's deputy - who entered Sea the Joy and Miss Mary Pat, both contenders.

Sea the Joy made her debut with a fifth-place finish at Churchill, but she broke through with a 3 1/2-length maiden win at Arlington, then went to Prairie Meadows and won the Prairie Gold Lassie by a length, beating two fillies who returned to win their next race. Miss Mary Pat makes her first start away from Lone Star Park, where she lost her career debut before winning her last three, including a rich sales futurity and an open stakes. Sea the Joy races on the front end, and Miss Mary Pat has come from off the pace.

Others to watch are Lenaro, the Holthus-trained horse who has raced in a pair of stakes since a big Churchill maiden win; Arlington debut winners Magnetic Miss, Lisa M, and Deep Springs; and Ice Storm Coming, who was a troubled second behind Sea the Joy in her debut, but came back to win a June 30 maiden race by six lengths. Trainer Tom Swearingen tried to find an allowance race for Ice Storm Coming, but the possibilities at Arlington never materialized, and he has wound up sitting on his filly for more than a month.

"That's definitely tough," Swearingen said, "but there weren't really other options."

Ice Storm Coming led all the way in her maiden win and has an inside draw Sunday, but Swearingen said he didn't anticipate her making the early lead. "She lays of the pace well," he said. "I really don't expect her to be in front, but I do expect her to run real competitively."