03/15/2008 12:00AM

Dreaming of Anna dominates


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Trainer Wayne Catalano always maintained Dreaming of Anna was a better horse on turf than on dirt, even after her victory in the 2006 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Thus far, it's been hard to argue with that assessment.

Dreaming of Anna ($4.40) once again validated Catalano's long-standing opinion by notching her seventh win in nine career starts on grass, a convincing 6 3/4-length victory over Lady Digby, in Saturday's $175,000 Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Grade 3 Hillsborough was billed as a rematch between Dreaming of Anna and Grade 1 winner Lear's Princess. The pair had finished one-two, noses apart with Dreaming of Anna the winner, when they met for the first time here four weeks earlier in the Grade 3 Endeavour Stakes. But this time the anticipated stretch battle never developed.

As expected, Dreaming Of Anna set the early pace under Cornelio Velasquez, cutting out fractions of 24.15 seconds, 49.41, and 1:13.42 over a turf course rated as yielding following overnight rains. Lear's Princess, meanwhile, rated within easy striking distance of the lead while kept a bit wide for the opening six furlongs.

But once turning for home, Dreaming of Anna kicked on strongly, disposing of a bid from Mary Louhana before pulling away with complete authority through the final eighth of a mile. Lear's Princess, on the other hand, had little left for the stretch run, fading steadily to finish a well-beaten fourth as the 4-5 favorite in a field of six older fillies and mares.

Dreaming of Anna covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.18.

"I said all along she was grass," said Catalano who trains Dreaming of Anna for owner-breeder Frank Calabrese. "She caught them off guard at the Breeders' Cup. It was a good thing for us there was no speed in there and she was allowed to set an easy pace. In fact, we've been lucky the last two times here. I was very confident today. That's why we came. You get a good horse and she's ready to run. End of story."

Catalano said he is uncertain where Dreaming of Anna might run next.

"There are a lot of options although one thing I'd love to do one day is try her on Polytrack," said Catalano. The trainer noted that a full brother to Dreaming of Anna, Lewis Michael, "loves it, and she trained very well over the surface at Keeneland prior to the Breeders' Cup."

Jockey Eibar Coa said he could tell right from the outset that Lear's Princess wasn't handling the course.

"This was the second time Lear's Princess couldn't handle a wet track," said Coa. "She tried to quit on the backstretch, but I didn't let her. In the end, she told me she wasn't going anywhere today."

The Hillsborough was only the second time Lear's Princess had finished worse than second in nine career starts. She also finished far back over an extremely sloppy track at Monmouth Park in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Florida Oaks: Awesome Chic upsets

Local favorite Awesome Chic registered the afternoon's biggest surprise when drawing off to an easy 4 1/2-length victory over Elusive Lady in the $200,000 Florida Oaks. My Baby Baby, the 6-5 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies, finished a well-beaten third.

Awesome Chic, a daughter of Awesome Again trained by the Tampa-based Rafael Ramos, paid $28.20 after covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.38 over a track upgraded from good to fast during the course of the day. Awesome Chic is owned by Aurora Springs Stable.

Awesome Chic rated just off the early pace under regular rider Irwin Rosendo, slipped inside a trio of horses to engage for command on the second turn before easily pulling away from Elusive Lady through the final furlong. Elusive Lady prompted the pace, tried to rally with the winner entering the stretch, but proved no match, finishing four lengths in front of the tiring My Baby Baby.

"I told my rider there was a lot of speed, to get to the rail and go easy," Ramos said through an interpreter. "I had no fear of the competition. We'd like to run in the Kentucky Oaks."

Turf Dash: Five straight for Lookinforthesecret

Lookinforthesecret posted his fifth consecutive victory, all during the current session, leading throughout before holding on to post a three-quarter-length decision over Prosico in the $75,000 Turf Dash.

Lookinforthesecret, who already had won the Super and Pelican stakes over the main track earlier in the meet, was ridden to victory by Daniel Centeno for trainer Jamie Ness and paid $5.40 as the favorite. Final time for five furlongs was 57.70 seconds over the yielding course.