01/26/2007 12:00AM

Dreaming of Anna's year brilliant, consistent


Some horses win championships with top performances in major end-of-year stakes like the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Others earn honors with strong, steady campaigns over the course of the year.

In 2006, Dreaming of Anna simply did it all, capping a 4-for-4 season with a 1 1/2-length victory over Octave in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs. That victory capped an unbeaten freshman year, which began in May with a maiden romp and ended in November with her Breeders' Cup success. Now, she is an Eclipse Award winner as outstanding juvenile filly.

Dreaming of Anna, a chestnut daughter of Rahy out of Justenuffheart, is owned and was bred by 78-year-old Chicago businessman Frank Calabrese. She did not follow a traditional path to Breeders' Cup success, but skilled placement by her connections, as well as her immense talent, resulted in her unbeaten streak. Following a four-length victory in her debut at Arlington Park on May 19, trainer Wayne Catalano moved Dreaming of Anna to turf, sending her to Colonial Downs for the Tippett Stakes on July 29.

Even though she had not raced in more than two months, Dreaming of Anna scored easily, winning by 7 1/4 lengths in course-record time. Her performance was a preview of what was to come.

A month and a half later, she ventured to Woodbine outside Toronto and beat male horses in the Grade 3 Summer Stakes on Sept. 17, winning by 3 1/4 lengths under confident handling. She earned a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure in the Summer Stakes.

As well as she had run, some racing people wondered if she could match that effort on dirt in the Juvenile Fillies. She did, utilizing her natural early speed. After speeding to the front and setting a comfortable pace under Rene Douglas, Dreaming of Anna turned back a stretch bid from Octave to edge clear late.

"I've said all along: This filly is the best I've ridden," Douglas told a television audience immediately after the race while galloping out Dreaming of Anna.

The victory left the normally outspoken Calabrese choked up and speechless in the winner's circle - perfectly understandable, under the circumstances.

Calabrese's feelings went beyond the obvious emotion that comes with owning and breeding an unbeaten Breeders' Cup winner; Dreaming of Anna is named after Calabrese's late sister, Anna Andersen, who died from cancer 16 years ago at age 48.

"They have the same hair color, and she is the same great athlete my sister was," Calabrese said a week before the Breeders' Cup.

After winning the race, Calabrese was not at a loss for words for very long. At a news conference a half-hour after the race, he outlined what he would like to see Dreaming of Anna accomplish in the future.

"I've always said I wanted to win the Breeders' Cup, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and Belmont," Calabrese said. "If she stays healthy, I think she can do it."

Dreaming of Anna is based at Palm Meadows training center in Florida this winter and would be considered for races like the Kentucky Oaks, Catalano said. A return to turf racing is another option, with her trainer calling her "way better on the turf" and a "superstar" on that surface.

That is a scary thought indeed.

* VOTING: Dreaming of Anna, 265; Octave, 3; Boca Grande 1; Point Ashley, 1. Voter abstentions, 1.