07/19/2007 12:00AM

Dreaming of Anna must prove herself


Wayne Catalano knows Dreaming of Anna cannot live on her laurels forever. As the 2-year-old filly champion of 2006, Dreaming of Anna has yet to convince many people that she still belongs among the elite of her division, although a huge race Saturday in the $200,000 Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs would go a long way to quiet her many skeptics.

"It's time for her to go on and step it up, and I definitely expect her to do that," Catalano said.

With 12 rivals to outpace over 1 1/8 miles of Colonial turf, the speedy Dreaming of Anna surely will have to run the best race of her 3-year-old year - if not her life - in the Virginia Oaks, the secondary feature on the richest day of racing at the New Kent, Va., track. The feature race is the $1 million Virginia Der by.

"She's doing everything just like you want it," said Catalano, who put Dreaming of Anna on a horse van Tuesday evening for a long overnight trip from his Arlington Park base in Chicago. "I'd say she'll probably be in front, if not just off it - somewhere in that neighborhood. Hopefully, they'll have to catch her down the lane. She's on her toes, I'll say that."

Dreaming of Anna, with E.T. Baird to ride, drew post 9, just outside of the only other Grade 1 winner in the field, Christmas Kid, who captured the Ashland at Keeneland in April. Based in New York with trainer Jimmy Jerkens, Christmas Kid will be making her first start on grass since she took the Tropical Park Oaks at Calder on New Year's Day.

Besides Dreaming of Anna and Christmas Kid, there are seven other stakes winners in the field, including Swingit, who took the Edgewood Stakes on the May 4 Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs, and Bit of Whimsy, who dead-heated for win in the Grade 3 Sands Point at Belmont last month. The others are Lemonlime, Silence Dogood, Snow Cone, New Edition, and Ciao. Like Dreaming of Anna, Lemonlime and Ciao have shipped all the way from Chicago.

* Besides the Virginia Derby and Oaks, the Saturday card at Colonial also includes the $60,000 Kitten's Joy, a 1 1/16-mile turf race that drew a field of 11 older horses. Karelian, with Edgar Prado to ride, looks like the one to beat following two sharp victories at the recently ended Churchill spring meet. Pass Play, a former mid-range claimer, is another major contender after winning his last four starts.