Barbara Banke has a rather well-known “Dream” as well as a spirit behind it that has made the last few weeks as rewarding as any she’s ever experienced in racing.
Banke, the widow of Jess Jackson and head of Stonestreet Stables, wore a smile as a bright as the sunny skies above on Monday afternoon as she stood in the winner’s circle at Saratoga following yet another auspicious debut by one of the stable’s young horses.
This time it was Dreaming of Julia who romped to a 10 3/4-length victory in her first career, marking the third time since the Spa opened on July 20 that a Stonestreet 2-year-old filly has registered a dazzling victory its first career start.
First came, Kauai Katie, who won on opening day by 12 lengths for trainer Todd Pletcher. Then on July 25 it was the homebred Teen Pauline, who merely broke a track record for by five furlongs in winning her debut for Steve Asmussen by 4 3/4 lengths in 56.53 seconds.
Monday belonged to Dreaming of Julia, another homebred out of the mare Dream Rush who ran away and hid from her seven rivals, winning in 1:16.48 for six and a half furlongs.
“We have three super fillies,” a proud Banke said. “This has been an outstanding few weeks. It’s the best stretch we’ve ever had at Saratoga, and we’re doing without Rachel Alexandra and Curlin.”
Though the racing careers of Rachel Alexandra and Curlin now belong to the history books, they, too, played a poignant part in the memorable last few weeks for Banke. On July 27, following the fourth running of the Curlin Stakes, a race named in honor of Stonestreet’s two-time Horse of the Year, the name for the colt sired by Curlin and foaled by Rachel Alexandra, Stonestreet’s 2009 Horse of the Year, was announced.
He was called Jess’s Dream, in honor of the late Jess Jackson, the owner who turned Stonestreet into one of the nation’s most prosperous stables and the first to have three straight Horse of the Year recipients.
“I just wish Jess was here. He would so enjoy this,” Banke said. “But his spirit is still with us through these horses. Dreaming of Julia and Teen Pauline are homebreds and he was the one who started everything and made all of that happen.
“The foal is doing great. He looks like his mother which a great thing. Now we have to hope he can run like her.”
There is, of course, a problem with having three immensely talented 2-year-old fillies, though it’s one everybody should have. Banke said the goal is to keep all separated for the time being, which could create some scheduling issues the next few weeks.
Dreaming of Julia
Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese, NYRA
Dreaming of Julia, who was named for Banke’s daughter Julia, a horsewoman in her own right, was described by her owner as a horse who should handle longer distances with aplomb.
“Her mother was a sprinter, but we feel she’ll do fine at longer distances. That’s why we started her at 6 1/2 rather than 5 furlongs like the other two,” she said.
Kauai Katie will return to the races first as she’s been targeted for the $200,000 Adirondack on Sunday. Teen Pauline will be given more time and will most likely await the $300,000 Spinaway, a Grade 1 stakes on Sept. 2 at the Spa.
After that, there’s Grade 1 tests like the Frizette (Oct. 8 at Belmont Park) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Nov. 2 at Santa Anita) that will determine whether one of the trio can join the likes of Curlin, Rachel Alexandra and My Miss Aurelia, who was last year’s champion 2-year-old filly and will make her 2012 debut in Wednesday’s eighth race at Saratoga.
With all of that the horizon, sounds like the “Dream” is far from over for Barbara Banke and Stonestreet Stables.