11/01/2010 12:21PM

Ward sees something special in Dancinginherdreams

Barbara D. Livingston
Dancinginherdreams, Julien Leparoux up, wins the Pocahontas.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – As visually impressive as some of the 2-year-old winners were Sunday at Churchill Downs, where a “Stars of Tomorrow” program opened the 21-day fall meet, their Beyer Speed Figures don’t exactly match. The easy winner of the Grade 2 Pocahontas, Dancinginherdreams, earned an 84, while perhaps the most impressive of six maiden winners, Hailey d’Oro, got just a 67 when dominating her opposition.

No worries. John T. Ward Jr., with trophies from the Kentucky Derby (Monarchos, 2001) and Kentucky Oaks (Gal In a Ruckus, 1995) in his possession, believes Dancinginherdreams might well be one of the best horses he has trained in a lifetime on the racetrack.

“She’s shown herself to be a highly superior athlete,” said Ward, 65.

In the span of maybe a furlong, Dancinginherdreams put on a dazzling display, passing the leaders after straightening away for home and suddenly spurting clear. Coming to the sixteenth pole, jockey Julien Leparoux nearly put on the brakes, and the nearly white filly’s ears shot up as if there were springs in them. They galloped past the wire 5 1/4 lengths in front.

Ward, in typically conservative fashion, will pass up the Golden Rod on the second “Stars” program here Nov. 27 and will take the filly to his south Florida base, the Palm Meadows training center, probably before the first of December

Even before the Pocahontas, Ward had calculated the time until his targeted Oaks preps: It would be 90 days between races when the seven-furlong Forward Gal is run Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park, and another four weeks after that to the one-mile Davona Dale.

“We’ll work backward from the Oaks,” said Ward.

Astrology gets job done

The male counterpart to the Pocahontas, the Grade 3 Iroquois, was won in more workmanlike fashion by an A.P. Indy colt, Astrology, owned by Jess Jackson and George Bolton and trained by Steve Asmussen. Astrology won by 2 3/4 lengths to earn a Beyer Figure of 79.

“I think he’s a little too childish, but he’s got a ton of ability,” said Asmussen. “He is very impressive to train, he’s got a beautiful big stride – but I think he can do better.”

Jackson and Asmussen teamed earlier in the day to win a maiden sprint with a filly named Hailey d’Oro, a $650,000 purchase by Medaglia d’Oro, the same sire as that of Rachel Alexandra, their 2009 Horse of the Year. Making her career debut, Hailey d’Oro appeared to be on cruise control in winning by 6 1/2 lengths as an even-money favorite.

Other notable opening-day performances included an allowance romp by Aide, who got just a 77 Beyer despite a whopping 19 3/4-length win margin, and an eye-catching late run by Halo’s Thunder to be fourth in the Iroquois. Aide, a filly, is expected to run back in the Golden Rod, while Halo’s Thunder figures to be back for another “Stars” appearance in the Nov. 27 Kentucky Jockey Club.

Borel having rough stretch

Calvin Borel has been on a dreamy run for nearly four years now, ever since he won his first Breeders’ Cup race with Street Sense in the 2006 BC Juvenile at Churchill and continuing through his amazing victories in three runnings of the Kentucky Derby.

The last few days of racing, however, have been very un-Calvin-like. Borel, who will turn 44 on Nov. 8, returned to the jockeys’ room by way of the track ambulance three times in as many racing days, having been involved in on-track mishaps each time. Fortunately, Borel escaped without injury all three times.

Borel was thrown to the Polytrack near the quarter pole when his mount, Electric Alphabet, clipped heels in a Friday race at Keeneland. In the third race Sunday at Churchill, Borel hopped off his mount, Blueveau, midway through the far turn when the filly suffered injuries that led to her being euthanized. And in the fourth race Sunday, Borel was aboard Time Limit when the colt clipped heels on the backstretch, bobbling badly and throwing Borel to the turf.

Adding insult to the non-injuries is this: Borel has gone winless since capturing the Oct. 21 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland aboard Brass Hat, a streak encompassing 27 races. Surely things will turn around any minute for Borel, who enjoyed perhaps his best Churchill meet ever, taking the 2010 spring-meet riding title with 52 wins.

River City field a top-notch bunch

A terrific field of nine older turf horses has been entered in the Thursday feature at Churchill, the Grade 3, $100,000 River City Handicap, which goes as the 11th of 12 races. Battle of Hastings, scratched from the Fayette, and Rahystrada, unraced since finishing a good fourth in the Aug. 21 Arlington Million, are the likely favorites for the 1 1/8-mile River City.

Other upcoming stakes this weekend: the $100,000 Ack Ack and $85,000 Jimmy V. on the Friday BC undercard; the $150,000 Chilukki and $85,000 Dream Supreme on the Saturday BC undercard; and the $100,000 Cardinal on Sunday.

◗ Successful Dan, winner of the closing-day Fayette Stakes at Keeneland, earned a career-high 105 Beyer with his three-length triumph.

◗ Mandatory end-of-meet jackpot payouts at Keeneland were $1,984 in the $2 pick six (for 5 of 6) and $12,100 in the $1 super high five (perfect tickets required).

◗ A handful of big-name jockeys will be here to ride a day or two before the Breeders’ Cup, including Rafael Bejarano, a former Churchill riding champion who has accepted mounts on the Wednesday and Thursday cards.

◗ Shawn Brasseaux, a Churchill outrider who died in September at age 42 from a sudden illness, will be honored with a memorial tribute in the winner’s circle following the first race Wednesday.