11/02/2006 12:00AM

Focused on winning, not friendship


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There are bonds of friendship that often exist between trainers and owners of racehorses. Sometimes those bonds run deep, such as with two-time Kentucky Derby-winning owner Bob Lewis and trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert. When Lewis died earlier year, Baffert described him as a father figure.

Trainer Wayne Catalano and owner Frank Calabrese - the connections of Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies contender Dreaming of Anna and Sprint longshot Lewis Michael - do not share such closeness. Their association is one focused on winning races, not sharing laughs.

"We have different philosophies on life," said Calabrese, who is known for his outspoken nature and involved ownership style. "His is different than mine. I really don't really like him much."

Catalano, 50, who began training in the 1980's after a nine-year riding career, chooses his words more carefully in describing their relationship. While Calabrese frequently speaks in hyperbole, Catalano is more reserved, particularly when speaking about Calabrese.

He must. Catalano and Calabrese have parted ways at least twice before in their eight- to nine-year association, leading some observers to compare their turbulent relationship to that of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and manager Billy Martin during the 1970's and 80's. During that stretch, Steinbrenner dismissed Martin five times, some of the numerous changes in managers he has made in his 30-plus years at the helm of the Yankees.

When asked if his relationship with Calabrese mirrored that of Steinbrenner and Martin, Catalano responded, "They won championships, and that's what we've done."

Championships for leading meets in Chicago, yes. Eclipse Awards, no. At their summer base at Arlington Park, Calabrese has won seven straight owner titles; Catalano has topped the trainer standings there in five of the last seven years.

Although they have had some good horses, they have not campaigned a champion horse. That would likely change with a victory from Dreaming of Anna in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Unbeaten in three starts, she heads into the race as one of the leaders of the division.

She won her first race at Arlington Park on May 19 by four lengths, followed that victory with a course-record score in the Tippett Stakes at Colonial on July 29, and then beat the boys in winning the Grade 3 Summer Stakes at Woodbine on Sept.o17.

Three-year-old Lewis Michael has been slower to develop, although he is a full brother to Dreaming of Anna, being by Rahy out of Justenuffheart. He ran third in the St. Louis Derby and second in the Oct. 13 Perryville Stakes in his races leading up to the Sprint.

"He's a late bloomer," Catalano said. "He didn't get it together until now."

Dreaming of Anna has trained in Kentucky since October, along with Lewis Michael and a few other Catalano-trained runners. She first trained at Keeneland before coming to Churchill Downs, where she breezed four furlongs in 47 seconds Sunday under jockey Rene Douglas.

According to Catalano, "Everything is coming together perfectly."

Calabrese sees things differently.

When spending a week in Lexington during the early portion of the Keeneland fall meet, he regularly visited Dreaming of Anna and felt she was not herself. Although she was training swiftly at the time, he said her coat was dull and she was not eating properly.

"But I learned something that week," he said. "Wayne, he's very compassionate with his horses, and my whole attitude about him changed."

He said Catalano altered her feed and worked to make her happy, and by the end of Calabrese's weeklong stay in Lexington, she began to come around.

Dreaming of Anna makes a positive impression now. Her chestnut coat glistened on her way to the track Sunday morning, and she did everything right in her workout, posting the fastest of 71 works for a half-mile at Churchill Downs. She cooled out quickly, breathing comfortably as she circled the interior of her barn after the workout.

Despite several offers for "millions of dollars," Calabrese, a self-made millionaire who will turn 78 on Breeders' Cup Day, chose not to sell the filly. He called her an insurance policy for his grandchildren when she becomes a broodmare. He hopes her offspring can provide his extended family with steady income every time one is sold as a yearling.

Calabrese has an attachment to Dreaming of Anna, whom he named after his sister, Anna Andersen, who died 16 years ago at age 48 from cancer.

"They have the same hair color, and she is the same great athlete my sister was," he said, his voice cracking. "When I saw her, it was like my sister came back."

If she is successful in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, a victory would prove emotional for Calabrese, whose only other Breeders' Cup starter, Exclusive Praline, finished ninth in the 1994 Sprint.

Expectations aren't as high for Lewis Michael as they are for Dreaming of Anna, although he is a good horse in his own right. Catalano said he wanted to run him in the Mile, but couldn't get in the race when it overfilled. Following two defections, Lewis Michael was able to draw into the Sprint.

Heading into the Breeders' Cup, Calabrese is confident in Catalano's training, despite their on-again, off-again history.

"I never question his ability," Calabrese said.