05/03/2004 11:00PM

New Dreams might make breakthrough


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Saturday's Derby Day card at Churchill Downs had no claiming races. Thursday's card at Churchill offers the other end of the class spectrum.

The 10-race program includes five claiming races, two maiden $30,000 claiming races, two straight maiden races on turf, and one six-horse allowance field.

Carded at 1 3/8 miles on turf, the ninth race, a $56,700 three-other-than allowance, is headed by , who is coming off a runner-up finish in an allowance at Keeneland, and New Dreams, a Group 1 winner in Brazil last May.

Although has yet to hit the board in three U.S. starts, she is approaching a top effort. Fifth to begin her U.S. racing career, she later finished 10th in The Very One Handicap at Gulfstream Park and fourth in a 1 1/2-mile allowance at Keeneland on April 4.

The marathon turf experience she gained in her last two races may give her an edge Thursday, particularly if there is give in the ground. Her last victory, which came at 1 1/2 miles in Brazil, was over a turf course rated heavy.

Brice Blanc rides New Dreams for the Estrela Energia Stable and trainer Ken McPeek, who has developed numerous Brazilian runners into U.S. stakes winners - including Hard Buck, winner of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Two Dot Slew lacks the distance background of New Dreams, but is in top form. On April 10 in a 1 1/8-mile turf race at Keeneland, she finished second at 65-1 odds when facing similar company. Despite setting quick fractions of 45.99 seconds and 1:10.47 on the lead, she did not yield until late, losing by three-quarters of a length to Noisette in a race timed in 1:47.43 over a firm course. She earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest of any starter in the field.

Two Dot Slew has never raced beyond 1 1/8 miles, however, and her Tomlinson rating for the 1 3/8-mile distance on turf is a below-average 267. She is also winless in six starts on grass.

Rafael Bejarano rides Two Dot Slew, who appears the lone speed of a paceless race.

also merits consideration. She finished fourth, two lengths behind Two Dot Slew, when racing 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland on April 10. She has the advantage of marathon turf experience and a distance pedigree, being by Affirmed out of a Northern Dancer mare.

Synergistic, Jester, and No Other Like You complete the field.