A lot of talk this week has centered on Street Sense's attempt to break the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I)/Kentucky Derby (gr. I) curse, but there is a little known fact that Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) winners have also suffered their share of bad racing luck on the first Friday in May.
For the Juvenile Fillies winners, the curse isn't about their inability to grab the lilies, but rather, most have not made it into the starting gate for reasons such as injury or retirement.
When Dreaming of Anna breaks from post seven under jockey Rene Douglas in the Kentucky Oaks May 4, she will become only the second Juvenile Fillies winner since Silverbulletday to even start in the race. Silverbulletday won the Juvenile Fillies in 1998 en route to championship honors followed by winning the Oaks and champion 3-year-old filly honors in 1999.
Cash Run won the Juvenile Fillies in 1999 but finished 13th in the Oaks the following year.
Besides Silverbulletday, Open Mind is the only other filly to have pulled the double, which she did in 1988-89.
At the beginning of the year, the connections of Dreaming of Anna had all but erased the Oaks from her schedule after she finished third in the Old Hat Stakes (gr. III) and was second in the Gaily Gaily Stakes on the turf. But back-to-back works in the two weeks leading up to the Oaks changed their minds.
A daughter of Rahy, Dreaming of Anna went seven furlongs in 1:25.20 April 21 at Keeneland and followed that work with a five-furlong drill in :58.60 April 28 at Churchill Downs.
"In the last month, she turned the corner," Catalano said. "She grew up. She was going through a little growth spurt and just blossomed out and was training real good. After that, I began thinking maybe I should rethink the whole deal."
Catalano said he did not have a specific reason as to why many Juvenile Fillies winners have failed to make the Oaks starting gate.
"In their 2-year-old stages, I would think some Breeders' Cup winners are just ahead of those other horses, and then they all turn 3 and the others just catch up and they get better or just as good as them and some make it and some don't," he said. "With young horses, the harder they run, if you don't give them enough time and let them develop and make adjustments for them not for you, then they are not going to run. I just let her tell me that she wanted to run again."
The following is a list of Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winners and how they faired the following year in the Kentucky Oaks:
1984- Outstandingly -- did not contest Oaks
1985-- Twilight Ridge-- did not contest Oaks
1986-- Brave Raj-- did not contest Oaks
1987-- Epitmome-- did not contest Oaks
1988-- Open Mind-- Won the Oaks
1989-- Go For Wand--finished second in Oaks
1990-- Meadow Star-- did not contest Oaks
1991--Pleasant Stage-- finished second in Oaks
1992-- Eliza-- finished second in Oaks
1993-- Phone Chatter-- did not contest Oaks
1994-- Flanders-- did not contest Oaks
1995-- My Flag-- finished fifth in the Oaks
1996-- Storm Song--finished third in Oaks
1997-- Countess Diana-- did not contest Oaks
1998-- Silverbulletday-- Won the Oaks
1999-- Cash Run-- finished 13th in Oaks
2000- Caressing-- did not contest Oaks
2001-- Tempera-- did not contest Oaks
2002-- Storm Flag Flying-- did not contest Oaks
2003-- Halfbridled-- did not contest Oaks
2004-- Sweet Catomine-- did not contest Oaks
2005-- Folklore-- did not contest Oaks