If you follow the Thoroughbred racing game and don’t know who Hakeem Olajuwon is you might be figuring it out pretty quick. You see, there’s this three-year old colt in the Peter Eurton barn that hopes to score like his namesake.
For those not in the basketball know, Hakeem “the Dream” is an NBA hall of famer that enjoyed a record setting career primarily with the Houston Rockets. Before joining the professional ranks, this Nigerian born behemoth was one of the centerpieces for the University of Houston and the Phi Slamma Jamma teams. Outstanding athletic ability and footwork allowed Olajuwon to move like a much smaller man. One of his signature moves was a dribble-reverse pivot play that shook off the defender and saw him scoring like a dream. So prolific was this play it was deservedly dubbed the “Dream Shake”.
Dream Shake is a son of Twirling Candy that has toed the racing track just once in his life but oh my what a slam dunk performance. In what was widely considered as the best maiden race of the year for three-year old males, Eurton was throwing his colt off into some deeper water at Santa Anita on February 7.
Leaving the gates at odds of 20 to 1 was not a major surprise as runners conditioned by Kentucky Derby icon Bob Baffert (Bezos, Tivoli) and west coast stalwart Simon Callaghan (Mr Impossible) were in the nine horse field. The talent level of this race would help provide answers to those asking questions about moving forward on the road that leads to the first Saturday in May. After a scintillating six and a half furlongs, Eurton was happy with his Dream.
Sitting in eighth after an almost pedestrian opening quarter mile (23.4), Dream Shake started to come alive. At the top of the stretch he made a four wide move that had dribble reverse pivot written all over it. Bolting to the lead with big strides there was no one between him and the basket. Opening up with authority after Shaking free from the field, the Dream did exactly as Olajuwon and rolled home with a thunderous slam. His 4 ¾ length score was noteworthy to say the very least.
“The talent level of this field made the race a decent measuring stick for him,” says the California-based Eurton. “That big move on the turn was pretty impressive, but the way he finished down the lane was what really caught my eye. Young horses can often times make a move off the turn but flatten out before the finish. He just seemed to keep gaining momentum and finished up quite nicely.”
Of course a Shake like that by a three-year old male in February starts the Derby thinking. With only one start under his saddle is it too early to Dream about a score in the world’s most famous race?
“I think the Kentucky Derby is always on your mind this time of year if you have a three-year old male,” says Eurton. “He’s a talented colt that really hasn’t done anything wrong so far. He doesn’t have a real quick first step but he has a long stride once he gets going. We are not going to get too far ahead of ourselves. His next start will be around two turns and we will find out a lot more about how good he is.”
Depending on how workouts go in the coming days, the mile and a sixteenth San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 6 may be the target. If not, an allowance race at the same distance will be the next starting spot for this Exline-Border Racing LLC, SAF Racing and Richard Hausman owned colt.
Of course it is way too soon to know if Eurton and this colt can Shake into the Kentucky Derby starting gates. But after that decisive dunk it may not be a far-fetched Dream.