Two-time grade I winner Dream Rush added Tampa Bay Downs' $65,000 Minaret Stakes to her impressive record, though the 9-10 favorite had to hold off Rising Fever in the final strides for neck victory Jan. 3.
Dream Rush has won back-to-back races at Tampa Bay since her 12th-place finish at odds of 47-1 in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Oct. 24. She won an allowance race on opening day of the track's winter meet Dec. 13.
"She’s coming back and we’re just trying to build some confidence and find some good spots for her," winning trainer William Phipps said. "I think that this was really great for her mentally, and it gets her to the place I want her to be physically.”
The Minaret was the first stakes win for Dream Rush since she captured the Darley Test (gr. I) at Saratoga as a 3-year-old in August 2007.
Dream Rush, owned by Halsey Minor, opened up a 2 1/2-length lead mid-stretch but just lasted as Rising Fever fired five wide through the lane to threaten.
"We were just cruising in the stretch but I heard the crowd getting into it and I looked over and was surprised to see them running at us late. I was happy that the wire was right there,” said Daniel Centeno, who has ridden the 5-year-old daughter of Wild Rush--Turbo Dream (by Unbridled) in both of her Tampa Bay races.
Sent off as the 9-10 choice against eight rivals, Dream Rush raced close to the pacesetting Salty Wave for the opening quarter-mile and bid three wide in the turn to put a head in front. She drew away from Salty Wave as Star Operator closed in the lane before getting a serious challenge from the Brazilian-bred Rising Fever, who just missed with Luis Gonzalez aboard. Star Operator, ridden by Rosemary Homeister Jr., finished third, three-quarters of a length farther back. The final time for the six-furlong test for fillies and mares was 1:10.73.
Dream Rush, who also won Belmont Park's Prioress (both gr. I) as a 3-year-old, earned her eighth triumph in 15 starts. The dark bay mare has earned of $779,364. James H. Petrey Jr. bred the winner in Kentucky.
She paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20. Second choice Rising Fever returned $4.20 and $3. Star Operator was $3.60 to show.