09/02/2005 11:00PM

Rue des Reves goes after turf queen's tiara


At an age when most female racehorses have long been retired to the breeding shed, Rue des Reves is running better than ever.

The 6-year-old Rue des Reves has won 7 of 8 starts this season, including a $100,000 turf stakes at Canterbury Park, and earned $141,000.

Despite her flashy credentials, Rue des Reves is rated no better than fourth choice at 8-1 on the track's morning line for the $75,000 Summer Finale, the co-feature on Mountaineer Racetrack's holiday card.

Both the Summer Finale for fillies and mares, which goes as race 4, and the $75,000 Labor Day Stakes (race 3) will be contested at one mile on grass.

Rue des Reves, who has done most of her racing this season in Louisiana, has to prove she's better than the hometown queen of the turf, 7-year-old mare Lady Grace, the 7-5 morning line choice.

Trained and owned by Loren Cox, Lady Grace is 5 for 5 this year, including two stakes, all at distances between seven furlongs and one mile, while bankrolling $178,426.

Competition runs deeper in the field of nine colts and geldings in the Labor Day.

The horse to beat, if he ships in from New Jersey, is Spruce Run. Scratched out of Saturday's $200,000 Caesar Rodney Handicap at Delaware Park, Spruce Run gets in with a feathery 109 pounds. Although winless in five starts this season, Spruce Run has been facing far tougher horses in graded stakes at Monmouth Park. His best effort was a narrow loss to American Freedom in the Grade 3 Red Bank Handicap.

A front-runner, Spruce Run could face early pressure from Immediate Reaction, who stole the West Virginia Speaker's Cup at 36-1 in his most recent start.

Two intriguing alternatives are marathon specialist Inaugural Address and the long-absent Midnight Arrival.

Inaugural Address is 3 for 3 over Mountaineer's turf, all at 1 3/8 miles or 1 3/4 miles, but has been up close at the mile call in each of those races.

Midnight Arrival won his first turf start of 2005 in January at Tampa Bay Downs, and earned a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure the only previous time he raced on grass at Mountaineer. He has not run since March, but his trainer, Duane Knipe, shows a good record with horses returning from extended layoffs.