From the time she was a foal, Dreaming of Anna had a confident demeanor and seemed sure she would make it to the top, according to farm manager Suzi Shoemaker of Lantern Hill Farm near Midway, Ky.
“She was very determined and gritty,” remembered Shoemaker, who raised the filly. “Her mother (Justenuffheart) is big and strong, and being a young mare and a good racemare, when they were turned out in the morning, she would just take off like a jet. A lot of foals in that situation become scared, stand still and whinny, or run in circles, but Dreaming of Anna would just pin her ears back and follow her mother as fast as she could. She was very strong and athletic.”
Campaigned as a homebred for Frank Calabrese, Dreaming of Anna quickly progressed from her childhood romps to professional performances on the racetrack, and stated her case for an Eclipse Award after going wire to wire in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Churchill Downs in her fourth race in as many career starts.
Dreaming of Anna’s Eclipse victory was a runaway, as she received 265 of 270 first-place votes.
Calabrese, who has won numerous leading owner titles at Chicago-area racetracks, has everything from claimers to stakes horses in his 50-plus stable. Calabrese has raced black-type victors such as grade II winner Exclusive Praline and grade III winners Wasatch and Fight for Ally, and grade I winner Silver Maiden, whom he called one of his “greatest accomplishments in racing.”
Winning the Breeders’ Cup on Calabrese’s 78th birthday, Dreaming of Anna is named for her owner’s late sister, Anna Anderson, whose hair was the color of the filly’s chestnut coat. Calabrese owns the printing firm FCL Graphics in the Chicago community of Harwood Heights. He spent 14 years racing Standardbreds nationwide before starting with Thoroughbreds in the early 1990s.
Dreaming of Anna jump-started her career with an easy four-length victory in a maiden race at Arlington Park last May. The daughter of Rahy out of the stakes-winning Broad Brush mare Justenuffheart completed the 4 1/2 furlongs in near record time.
Taking a look at her grass-heavy pedigree after she broke her maiden, Dreaming of Anna’s connections, which include trainer Wayne Catalano and racing manager Steve Leving, subsequently decided to enter her in a turf contest. The filly proceeded to prove her versatility in winning the Tippett Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Colonial Downs last July in course-record time of 1:01.63 for 5 1/2 furlongs.
When it came time for Dreaming of Anna’s next race, the Sept. 10 Arlington-Washington Breeders’ Cup Lassie Stakes (gr. III), the track came up sloppy and she was scratched. Her connections instead picked out the Summer Stakes (Can-IIIT) for 2-year-olds at Woodbine. Running against the boys, Dreaming of Anna recorded another easy victory in front-running fashion. Crossing the wire first by 3 1/4 lengths, she completed the one-turn mile in 1:35.03.
According to Leving, Dreaming of Anna was the only filly among 42 horses nominated to the Summer Stakes, which served as her final prep before facing other females in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies, her first start around two turns.
Catalano, a former jockey who won his first race at Churchill in 1974, became a trainer after his retirement in 1983 and has gone on to win multiple training titles at Arlington, Hawthorne Race Course, and Sportsman’s Park. His only other Breeders’ Cup starter was Tamweel, who finished fourth in the 2004 Distaff. Catalano used Keeneland’s new Polytrack surface to prepare Dreaming of Anna for her Juvenile Fillies date, where she was installed as the slight 5-2 favorite in a field of 14.
In her Breeders’ Cup debut, Dreaming of Anna became one of the four winners out of five main track starters to break from post one. In the irons was jockey Rene Douglas, who snapped an 0-for-10 Breeders’ Cup slump while getting his first win. Douglas also rode Dreaming of Anna to victory in the Summer Stakes in her previous start.
Kicking in late to pull away to a 1 1/2-length win over her closest competitor, Octave, Dreaming of Anna completed the race in 1:43.81 on a track labeled fast.
Calabrese also was represented by Dreaming of Anna’s then 3-year-old full brother, Lewis Michael, in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I). But he was unable to follow the spectacular performance his sister put on all the way to the winner’s circle. Bumped at the start, Lewis Michael tired to a disappointing 11th-place finish.
Both Calabrese and Catalano, who earned their first Eclipse Award with Dreaming of Anna, have declined numerous substantial offers for the filly since the Breeders’ Cup. Immediately following Dreaming of Anna’s win, there was talk among her connections of her possible future starts, including the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), and even the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) for another chance against males.
An image of perfection in four starts last year, the question that remains for Dreaming of Anna is whether she can remain a model of consistency in 2007.
(Article appears in the January 27, 2007 issue of The Blood-Horse)