by Teresa Genaro
It had been 20 years since trainer Barbara Minshall had won a graded stakes race outside of Canada – back when her Woodbine home base still raced on dirt – and while she’s well known north of the border, Minshall was likely an unfamiliar name to a large percentage of the opening day crowd at Saratoga.
But after Dream It Is‘ romping win in the $150,000 Schuylerville (G3), Minshall may well have a filly who’s about to become a household name.
Undefeated in two starts over Woodbine’s synthetic surface, Dream It Is took to the Saratoga dirt like a native, a result of her training on the natural surface at Woodbine’s training track.
After stalking a quick early pace under regular rider Luis Contreras, the two-year-old daughter of Shackleford took the lead coming around the final turn, and by the time she hit the eighth-pole, she was gone, hitting the wire nine lengths ahead of runner-up Best Performance.
“You’re always a little worried,” Minshall admitted about switching surfaces. “But she’s trained well on the dirt. You never expect them to be this good early, but she’s done everything right and she’s unflappable.”
The bay filly is owned by Hoolie Racing Stable LLC, comprising brothers Andrew and David Hudson and their father, Greg. She’s the first horse they’ve bought together, paying $50,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015, on the advice of Travis Durr of Webb Carroll Training Center.
“We’ve been coming up here for about 10 years,” said Andrew, the managing partner. “There was no racing for her in Canada, and I felt really confident bringing her here. This is an absolute dream.”
Natives of Kentucky, all three men now live in the south – Andrew in North Carolina, Davis in South Carolina and Greg in Florida – yet somehow ended up with a trainer based in Toronto.
“(Thoroughbred owner) Bruce Lunsford is a great friend of mine,” Andrew explained. “He sends all his horses to Barbara, and we owe him a shout-out. He put us on to Travis as well.”
Their partnership takes its name from their grandfather, George “Hoolie” Hudson, who owned horses – “He won a lot of races in Kentucky in the ’60s and ’70s,” Andrew said – and who used to take his young grandson to Ellis Park, a tradition that continued until Hoolie’s death. The white silks adorned with a big purple “H” that Dream It Is wore were originally the elder Hudson’s.
“I can’t even explain it,” said Andrew, voice full of emotion. “This is such a special place, and to see my dad walk the filly in, wearing my grandfather’s silks – it’s phenomenal.”
And so, it seems, is the filly herself, who may or may not make a repeat appearance at Saratoga. She ships back to Canada Saturday morning, and Minshall has made no decisions about where Dream It Is will start next.
“She was amazing. She’s a star,” Minshall said. “She deserves a break. She’s just a baby.”