Daley, Gregory aim for ISS wins with Anoka Hanover, You Ato Dream
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Trainers Noel Daley and Jeff Gregory each co-own a horse competing Saturday at the Red Mile, where Daley’s Anoka Hanover is the favorite in the third of four International Stallion Stakes divisions for 2-year-old filly trotters and Gregory’s You Ato Dream is the choice in the fourth. The two combined have finished worse than second only four times in 17 starts.
Anoka Hanover heads to her race Saturday off a half-length win over May Karp in 1:54 in a division of last week’s Bluegrass Stakes. The daughter of Donato Hanover-Aunt Mel has won five of nine races and $177,216 this season for owners Daley, L.A. Express Stable, and Caviart Farms. She is 7-5 on the morning line and will have Todd McCarthy in the sulky.
“They have their days, all of them, but she’s got a good head on her for a trotting filly,” Daley said. “From day one, she was always sort of a powerful filly, and nice enough gaited. I have half a dozen trotting fillies and the others were sort of better gaited than her, but she’s got a very good attitude about everything. That’s probably her biggest attribute, she’s smart. She’s just a nice filly.”
Daley purchased Anoka Hanover for $35,000 at last year’s Standardbred Horse Sale. Anoka Hanover was the fifth foal out of stakes winner Aunt Mel. Her previous four all made money at the races, but Anoka Hanover is the first to exceed $45,000. Daley bought the filly on the recommendation of longtime collaborator Martti Ala-Seppala.
“He’s done it a bunch of times for me, picked out well-bred ones where the mares, for whatever reason, haven’t hit yet and I can usually get them at a bit of value,” Daley said. “That’s what he did there. This was the right one. He’s a big help.”
Anoka Hanover is not eligible to the Breeders Crown, but still has the Kindergarten Classic Series and Goldsmith Maid on her schedule. She has won back-to-back starts, both from sixth place at three-quarters, following a third-place finish behind Flawless Country and You Ato Dream in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.
“I was pleased with her,” Daley said. “I think that sort of suits her. She’s reasonably versatile but I think chasing them down is probably her game.
“She can be a little aggressive, a little on the muscle in her races. I knew she would be better here (at Red Mile). She can get on a line on the smaller tracks and here it’s a nice big wide track. It’s a bit kinder track on the feet and she is able to get much better traction here.”
You Ato Dream enters her start Saturday off a second-place finish to Presto in 1:53 in their Bluegrass division. The margin of defeat was a head, the third time this year she was beaten by a neck or less.
“She’s had a lot of tough beats, it’s been almost cruel,” Gregory said, managing a laugh. “She’s not good in the photos.”
For the season, You Ato Dream has one win and six seconds in eight starts. She has earned $197,856. She is 2-1 on the morning line for the International Stallion, with Gregory driving.
Gregory bought the daughter of Donato Hanover-Dream Child under the name Carolina Bi for $45,000 at last year’s Lexington Selected Sale.
“She’s been a nice horse for us,” Gregory said. “The first couple days on the track she was a little moody. She was a little tough. But after that, she was really nice and trained down very easy. She gave you the feeling like you always had 15 seconds in the bank, it was not a lot of work for her.
“She’s really good gaited. For a decent sized filly, she doesn’t hit the track hard. She’s very light on her feet, really athletic.”
Last week, You Ato Dream took the lead prior to a :54.4 half, with :27.1 second quarter.
“I haven’t left with her very much,” Gregory said. “As you could see last week, once I get her rolling, she’s a little hard to settle down. I couldn’t get her to back off the second quarter at all. I’m sure it probably cost me the race. The first few starts, I never left with her because I didn’t want to take a chance getting her hot.
“I just kind of have to do what she wanted to do without fighting her too much. You plan out a race in your head and sometimes you can’t do it that way because her manners might not be a hundred percent perfect. She’s not a push-button horse. But she doesn’t quit. She’s had a couple of rough trips, she’s been first over a couple times, she’s been on the front a couple times, but she doesn’t give up.”
Gregory owns You Ato Dream with Bill Richardson, George Romanoff, and Martin Garey. She is eligible to the Breeders Crown, Matron Stakes, and Goldsmith Maid.
“We’re just going week by week,” Gregory said. “If she’s fresh and she’s racing good and she’s competitive, we’re probably going to keep trying. If she shows any signs of getting tired, or the year is getting too long, we’re going to pull the plug and get her ready for her 3-year-old season. I’m just going to let her tell us when it’s time to quit.
“It’s pretty fun. It’s the same group of guys I’ve had horses with for years. They’re all really enjoying her. It’s not about the money, it’s the thrill of having a nice horse at this point in their lives. They’re thrilled to have a horse like this and be competitive in some bigger races. That means more to them than anything.
“When you start out with four babies, it’s nice to come up with one like this. She’s been fun for all of us. She’s a sweetheart. She’s very friendly; she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She’s enjoyable to be around every day.”
The favorites in the remaining International Stallion Stakes for trotting fillies are Insta Glam, who is 2-1 in the first division, and May Karp, who is 8-5 in the second.
There also are three divisions of International Stallion Stakes for 2-year-old male pacers on Saturday. The favorites are Almanac (2-1) in the first, Perfect Sting (9-5) in the second, and Southwind Gendry (9-5) in the third. Perfect Sting is unbeaten in seven races this year and Southwind Gendry is on a five-race win streak. (Ken Weingartner/USTA)