Wayne Catalano met with some resistance when he told owner Frank Calabrese that he wanted to run Kentucky homebred Dreaming of Anna in the $175,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) at Tampa Bay Downs. But the 4-year-old filly proved that her trainer knew best when she rolled to a 6 ¾-length victory over Tampa’s yielding turf March 15.
“My filly, the way we were training, I said, ‘We’re going,’” Catalano said. “They didn’t want to go, they were questioning me, and they were he-hawing around and I said, ‘Listen, we have a good horse, she’s ready to run, and we’re going. End of story.’”
Dreaming of Anna, a daughter of Rahyand the champion 2-year-old filly of 2006, blew away a field of six older females, including rival Lear’s Princess in the 1 1/8-mile event, part of Tampa Bay’s Festival Day card. The Hillsborough was her second stakes start of the year. She began the season at Tampa Bay Feb. 16 in the Endeavour Cup (gr. IIIT), in which she held off a strong run from Kiaran Mclaughlin trainee Lear’s Princess by a nose.
“I was very confident today,” the trainer emphasized. “She was training unbelievable. That’s the reason why we came. I had a lot of doubters, but I stuck out there myself and I believed in myself and my horse.”
Going into the Hillsborough, Dreaming of Anna was actually the second choice at odds of 6-5, while Lear’s Princess was the favorite. But when jockey Cornelio Velasquez got the trademark frontrunner to relax through slow early fractions of :24.15 and :49.41, the race set up perfectly for her confident closing kick. As Maddy’s Heart tracked along off the leader’s flank and Mary Louhana hugged the rail, Lear’s Princess was hung four wide and, according to jockey Eibar Coa, did not handle the track. Meanwhile, Dreaming of Anna was loping along.
“She just runs her race on anything,” Velasquez said. “She had no problem with the surface today; she just settled into a nice pace.”
They traveled three-quarters in 1:13.42 with the order unchanged, Dreaming of Anna maintaining a one-length lead over the rest of the field. At the head of the stretch, Velasquez set his mount down for the stretch drive and the race was as good as over.
“When I asked her she responded like I knew she would,” the jockey said. “She just took off coming into the stretch. Off what she did for me today, it will take a very special horse to beat her.”
Dreaming of Anna led by four going into the stretch, and opened that advantage through a mile in 1:39.17. She hit the wire in a final time of 1:52.18. Lady Digby, sixth at the half-mile pole, moved up to get second above Mary Louhana, who tired after stalking the pace. Lear’s Princess was fourth, while May Night and Maddy’s Heart completed the order of finish.
Dreaming of Anna returned $4.40, $4.40, and $4.80, while Lady Digby and jockey Jose Velez Jr. paid $12.80 and $21.20. Mary Louhana brought $19.40 under Daniel Centeno.
Dreaming of Anna is out of the Broad Brush mare Justeuffheart. She has a 9-2-1 record from 13 starts, and has collected earnings of $1,853,172. According to Catalano, long-term plans include a run at the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT), but a race over the Polytrack may be in store in the near future.
“I’ve said all along, she’s grass,” the trainer said. “She’s really proven she’s a grass horse, (but) someday I’m going to get on Poly. Her brother (Lewis Michael) was real good on it… I want to do it one day.”