01/24/2008 12:00AM

Celtic Dreamin aiming high for small breeder

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Celtic Dreamin, who starts in Saturday's $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita, is as much a West Coast-bred as he is a California-bred.

A 4-year-old gelding, Celtic Dreamin is by Game Plan, a stallion that stands in California. Celtic Dreamin was foaled in California, but was raised at breeder Petra Lewin's Rainbow Meadows Farm, near Olympia, Wash.

His lone stakes win came in the British Columbia Derby at Hastings Park in Vancouver.

Celtic Dreamin will be after the biggest prize of his career in the Sunshine Millions Classic at 1 1/8 miles for California-breds and Florida-breds. Not bad for a gelding who is something of an overachiever, considering what he has sold for in the past.

Celtic Dreamin sold for $25,000 at the 2005 Barretts October yearling sale and was claimed for $40,000 by current owner K.K. Sengara last April when he made his career debut at Santa Anita.

For Sengara and trainer Rafael Becerra, Celtic Dreamin has won 5 of 8 starts and $334,663. He has never been worse than second, including a second in the $250,000 California Cup Classic at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in November.

Lewin has benefited financially through breeder awards, and will be cheering on Celtic Dreamin in the Sunshine Millions.

"It's a struggle," she said of breeding Thoroughbreds. "It's not an easy business to do."

Lewin's involvement with Thoroughbreds dates back to the early 1970s, when she worked on a Washington farm breaking yearlings. She bought the 40-acre Rainbow Meadows Farm in 1974 and added 20 acres a few years ago. When Washington made national news a few months ago because of torrential rain and flooding, Rainbow Meadows Farm was spared because of its elevation, she said.

Lewin said she will have four foals on her farm this year, an enterprise that is truly a hands-on operation.

"In the summer, I have two part-timers," she said.

For the most part, she breeds to sell, but has occasionally had a horse on the track.

"I'm a California-bred myself," she said, having grown up in San Francisco. She moved to Washington because of marriage.

Aside from racing, Lewin has been involved in the real estate business since 1975.

Celtic Dreamin's dam, Astral Dreamer, spends most of the year at Rainbow Meadows when she is not shipped to California to foal or be bred. This year, Astral Dreamer is expected to have a foal by Washington sire Delineator in March and is booked to go to Game Plan, who stands at E.A. Ranches in Santa Ysabel, Calif.

Lewin bought Astral Dreamer privately through a dispersal. Celtic Dreamin was the first foal that Astral Dreamer foaled after that purchase. "I didn't have any appropriate mares for Game Plan," she said.

Astral Dreamer, by On the Sauce, won twice as a 3-year-old in 1996. She is a full sister to the Canadian multiple stakes winner Flying Sauce ($322,976) and a half-sister to the Canadian multiple stakes winner Astral Thunder ($173,055).

"She's head of the mare group," Lewin said. "She's a benevolent dictator, but she is a dictator."

Celtic Dreamin was foaled near Auburn, Calif., at Lewin's sister's farm. Most of Lewin's foals are born in California.

A California-bred 2-year-old half-sister to Celtic Dreamin, Midnight Dreamin, by Majesterian, sold for $7,500 to Ronald Smith at Tuesday's Barretts January mixed sale. The disappointing price was not a complete surprise to Lewin.

"I didn't expect" much, Lewin said. "I had hoped that I would get somewhere around $10,000. The fact that she was by Majesterian didn't help. She had a set of splints."

Lewin traveled to Barretts for the sale and was planning to stick around town for Saturday's race. She was philosophical about Tuesday's sale, but was looking to the future with Astral Dreamer.

"I have mom," Lewin said. "If Celtic places well, we'll move on."