05/23/2008 12:00AM

Gestes to send Palanka City to Belmont for Prioress


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The trainer with the largest 2-year-old operation in Illinois has 25 stalls at Arlington, but all those unraced young horses are way downstate at Fairmount Park. The same trainer conditions one of the best 3-year-old fillies with Illinois connections, but upon easily winning the Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes last weekend at Pimlico, Palanka City was sent not to Arlington, but on to Prairie Meadows.

Yes, trainer Terry Gestes has kind of gone from 0 to 60 in about nothing flat. A few years ago, he was an assistant trainer to a fairly obscure southern Illinois trainer, Jimmy Zook, helping Zook with the horses owned by Bill Stiritz, who also owns Fairmount. But when Zook and Stiritz parted company, Gestes took over, and he has helped oversee significant growth in the Stiritz operation.

How much growth? The outfit has 44 2-year-olds based at Fairmount right now, up from about 25 babies in 2007.

"We just bought a few at the sales, and we've reared our own," Gestes said Friday morning. "All of a sudden we just jumped up to that figure."

Gestes said that the better Illinois-bred 2-year-olds would be filtering into Arlington over the summer, while non-Illinois-bred babies were likely to wind up at the Prairie Meadows string, with the option of shipping to run. Gestes has 24 stalls in Iowa, and that is where his top assistant, Scotty Becker, is based.

Becker wintered with Palanka City at Oaklawn Park, where she easily won the Prima Donna Stakes, and he is one reason Palanka City will train up to her next start at Prairie Meadows rather than Arlington. The other is that Prairie Meadows has a dirt track, and Palanka City is bound for dirt races in New York.

The first of them is the Grade 1 Prioress on July 5 at Belmont, and should things continue to go well with Palanka City, she will be pointed to the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga.

"If you look at her past performances closely, she could've won two other stakes that she just had bad luck in," Gestes said. "Now things are going her way."

Dreaming of Anna sitting on go

Dreaming of Anna will make her next start in a rich one-turn-mile grass race, but whether that race is the $300,000 Nassau Stakes next Saturday at Woodbine, or the $400,000 Just a Game Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 7 has not yet been fully determined.

Dreaming of Anna, second in the Distaff Turf Mile on May 3 at Churchill, worked a bullet Polytrack half-mile last Saturday at Arlington, and will work again in the next few days.

"She's ready to go," said trainer Wayne Catalano. "You could put her in right now."

Catalano won still another race here on Thursday, giving him 15 victories from only 21 starters this Arlington season. Catalano's winner was Flapper, who captured the fourth race under Brandon Meier, who rode his first race only two weeks ago. Meier, with a major assist from Catalano, has begun his career with 4 wins and 2 seconds from 7 starters, and is due to have his apprentice allowance reduced from 10 pounds to seven.

Instill moves off Polytrack

Trainer John Wainwright recently moved leading Illinois-bred 3-year-old Instill from Arlington Park to Fairmount Park in order to train on dirt.

"He just wasn't happy on the Polytrack," Wainwright said.

Instill was scheduled to work Saturday morning, and if he works well, Wainwright will enter Instill in the May 31 Ohio Derby, he said.

* A field of eight, headed by Tessa Blue, Indescribable, and Leah's Secret, was entered Friday for Monday's Grade 3, $150,000 Matron Handicap.