04/27/2006 11:00PM

Stream Cat comes back in tough spot

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When Stream Cat last raced, he competed against Stevie Wonderboy, Henny Hughes, and First Samurai in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. In Sunday's ninth race at Churchill Downs - a $58,000 second-level allowance - he will find himself among less-accomplished company.

Not that his task is easy - far from it. Eight opponents are lined up to face Stream Cat in the 1 1/8-mile turf race, including Dayano, a first-time U.S. starter who was second in the Group 1 Italian Derby a couple years ago. Stream Cat, one of two 3-year-olds in the field, is also facing older horses for the first time.

Winner of last year's With Anticipation Stakes on turf at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile over Turfway's Polytrack surface, Stream Cat has recorded four published workouts at Turfway leading up to his seasonal bow. Following the Breeders' Cup he had a chip removed from a knee, trainer Patrick Biancone said.

He said he believes is fit enough to compete without being fully cranked. "He's going to improve from the race," Biancone said.

Apprentice Julien Leparoux rides Stream Cat, a Black Minnaloushe colt owned by the Team Derby Dreams Stable, a group that includes former standout Duke basketball player Bobby Hurley.

Stream Cat is not the only one returning from a layoff. So, too, is . Well regarded overseas, he had been pointed toward a start in the Arlington Handicap last summer before taking ill following a long flight to the States. He was sent to a veterinary clinic, and a long recovery period ensued.

Trainer Niall O'Callaghan is the new trainer of Dayano, who was sold from German breeder Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof to Gary Tanaka this past winter.

O'Callaghan, who began caring for Dayano during his recovery, said the horse was sidelined with pleurisy, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the lungs. He said he has been pleased with the horse's training, and recommended Tanaka purchase the horse. Robby Albarado, who breezed Dayano four furlongs in 51.40 seconds over Churchill's grass course Thursday, rides.

and Mythical Conquest head the opposition, and having both raced recently, might be fitter than Stream Cat and Dayano. Sun Boat, in particular, would appear likely to benefit if Sunday's race is taken off the turf due to inclement weather, having won on dirt this past winter at Gulfstream. Showers are forecast for Saturday evening and during the day on Sunday.