03/12/2009 11:00PM

Speedster on the rail big threat


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Kiaran McLaughlin is enjoying a very productive winter in New York, sending out winners at a 26 percent clip at Aqueduct.

McLaughlin looks poised to nab another victory Saturday with Dream Play in the Grade 3, $100,000 Cicada Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Dream Play is the one to catch from the rail in the six-furlong race, which attracted six runners.

McLaughlin appeared to have a stranglehold on the race with both Dream Play and Elusive Heat, a 13 1/4-length allowance winner last time out at Gulfstream Park, on target for the Cicada.

Elusive Heat was notably absent, however, when the entries were drawn Wednesday.

"We had some issues and we had to take her out of the race," McLaughlin said. "We've got to get her sound and figure her out."

Dream Play still leaves McLaughlin a strong hand. She is 2 for 3, including her first stakes victory last time out in Aqueduct's Dearly Precious on Feb. 14. After defending the early lead under intense pressure, Dearly Precious drew off to an 8 1/4-length win while earning a 92 Beyer Speed Figure, easily the best career number in the race.

"She is training great, doing very well," McLaughlin said. "She came out of her last race in excellent shape. We drew the 1 hole, so hopefully she breaks clean."

There are several fillies in the field who could run with Dream Play in the early stages, including One Smokin' Lady. She has the outside post for her stakes debut following consecutive dominant wins at Philadelphia Park.

While the McLaughlin barn has been strong at Aqueduct, trainer Steve Asmussen has been even hotter with 34 percent of his runners coming back winners. Asmussen ships in Heart Ashley, an allowance winner most recently at Fair Grounds.

Love That Dance is the only other runner in the field with stakes experience, having run fourth in the Colleen against open company at Monmouth Park last summer before closing out the season with a five-length romp against statebreds in the New Jersey Juvenile at the Meadowlands. She makes her first start of the year with Mike Luzzi aboard for trainer Ben Perkins Jr.

Daily Star and Purrfect Bluff, both fresh from their maiden wins, complete the field.