08/07/2008 12:00AM

Stream Cat has Hurley in the game


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Fourth in the 2007 Arlington Million, Stream Cat is back for a second run in the prestigious turf race Saturday.

Among those watching him with keen interest here will be Bob Hurley, who is well along in the second career of his adult life.

Hurley, the former Duke University basketball star, is one of the partners who own Stream Cat, and if Stream Cat should follow through Saturday on his excellent victory here last month in the Arlington Handicap, it just might top Songandaprayer's 2001 Fountain of Youth victory as Hurley's best racing moment.

Hurley was an All-America point guard who remains the NCAA Division I all-time assists leader, but a serious automobile accident in December 1993 compromised his NBA career. Hurley played four more seasons before retiring, and quickly got involved in racing, buying his first yearlings in the late 1990s.

"The first year it was a couple lower-priced horses," Hurley said, reached by phone Thursday. "I just saw what it was about, and the following year we stepped up and spent some more money."

Among the second-year purchases was Songandaprayer, the horse who has supported Hurley's venture into horse racing. While Hurley has not owned any headline horses since Songandaprayer, his approach to racing has changed the last several years. Hurley stands Songandaprayer at stud and has purchased broodmares to help support his stallion.

"I'm more into the breeding and selling side now, though we keep a handful of 2-year-olds," said Hurley, who has accumulated 20 broodmares, and has horse property in Ocala, Fla. "But I always loved racing. I still go and watch racing if I don't have horses running."

Hurley and another Stream Cat co-owner, Jack Goldthorpe, were in on the $120,000 purchase of the horse as a yearling. The plan was to pinhook Stream Cat, but he failed to meet his reserve at the 2005 Keeneland sale of 2-year-olds in training, and was kept as a racehorse. And that has worked out fine. Stream Cat has won 6 of 16 starts, looked really good last out in his first start at age 5, and is proven on both turf and synthetic surfaces, which opens up several options on this year's Breeders' Cup program at Santa Anita.

The breeding end of the racing business evolves at a slower pace than racing one's own horses. But the racing end of things, with an owner's vicarious experience of a competition through his horse, harks directly back to Hurley's life as a basketball player.

"It gives me a way of competing," Hurley said. "Technically, I can't really help out much once it's in the hands of the trainer and a jockey. But I can look at the Form, see how a horse fits, and wait around getting nervous like I used to before a big game."

Stream Cat fits pretty well - and the Million is a big game indeed.