Dream Baby Dream’s talent, speed and intelligence have given Rod Allen reason to shoot for harness racing’s biggest prize.
If there is anyone on the planet who intends to ask Rod Allen if he plans on procuring the services of another reinsman to steer his Delvin Miller Memorial contestant Dream Baby Dream in this event, or any other, be forewarned he will not even acknowledge the question. After all it is a silly question, as anyone familiar with Allen knows the only individual that will be holding the lines behind this filly is him.
“I’ve received calls about whether I was going to find a catch-driver for her next couple starts or maybe even have someone else train her,” he said. “The reason my father (Carl) got into this business is because you can do everything with the horses yourself. You can breed them, raise them, break them, train them, shoe them and drive them. I’m not about to change that now — especially one of the greatest things about this sport.”
Therefore, Allen will be in his usual location, the sulky, when the daughter of Muscle Hill-I Believe commences trotting from post position two in the first of two $125,250 divisions of the above mentioned event. Rated as the 6-1 third selection on the morning line, Dream Baby Dream, who is co-owned by Rod Allen Inc. and Joe Palermo III, will take on six rivals in the first race on the stakes studded Meadowlands Pace card on Saturday (July 15). The granddaughter of the Hall of Fame mare CR Kay Suzie will compete against Dan Patch Award winner Ariana G (3-5, post one, Yannick Gingras), last year’s Goldsmith Maid winner Magic Presto (4-1, post five, Brian Sears) and the very talented Ice Attraction (12-1, post three, Åke Svanstedt).
“I know Ariana G has won a lot of races wrapped up, but I like the position we are in right now,” Allen said. “This is a tough group of fillies and any one of them is ready for a break-out race. We all have our eye on the same goal right now which is Hambletonian Day so that’s what we are preparing them for.”
Dream Baby Dream possesses a record of 12-3-2-1, banked $57,142 and just established her lifetime mark of 1:52.3 with a powerful victory in the $41,880 Reynolds over the Big M oval on July 8. Prior to that performance, the filly was second to Thats All Moni in a race for 3-year-old fillies on June 30 with a :26.4 final quarter and was an outstanding third behind Ariana G and Ice Attraction in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final on June 2.
“She was first-over and then parked the entire mile in the Sire Stakes final,” Allen said. “She is just so versatile and proved she was that night. She showed she can take a lot of air and keep trotting home.
“She is just such an intelligent filly. She is the first Muscle Hill we’ve ever had and they all seem to be smart horses. They know when to go and when to relax. You can see them just take everything in and you only have to show them something once.”
Named after a Bruce Springsteen song of the same name, which is about battling life’s ups and downs by always possessing a positive view of the future, Dream Baby Dream certainly embodies not only the intent of the song, but the passion the Allens have for the sport. The family has owned and campaigned the likes of world champions CR Kay Suzie and CR Commando, Royal Troubador, CR Renegade, Jeanne’s Somolli, Mo Bandy, Mae Jeans Crown, Political Briefing, Carls Bird, It’s Fritz, Carlsbad Cam and CR Daniella.
“The day she was born I started dreaming about the Hambletonian Oaks,” Allen said. “It means everything when you do everything with a horse yourself, but when you think they are that special you want to share that feeling. I started calling people that day to see if someone wanted to go in on a partnership with her so they could experience that kind of enjoyment. Joe (Palermo) has been the perfect partner. He starts off talking like a businessman about her, but by the end of every conversation he is so excited he can’t contain his voice.”
Over the course of the last decade the Allens have focused on their 200-acre farm in Ocala, Fla., and scaled back on the number of horses they bred, trained and raced.
“It takes a lot of work to keep the farm going,” Dawn Allen said. “But it wasn’t just that, we were just trying to fool ourselves into thinking we were going to retire and also the economics of the business are not the same as they used to be if you don’t have a big stable.
“We sold two colts to pay the stud fee for Muscle Hill to have this filly and he (her husband Rod) keeps telling me she is special. She must be because I think he might love her more than he loves me!
“He definitely spends more time with her and she loves him, too. Whenever he is out of her sight she is turning her head looking for him and nickering for him. They are a team.”
While Rod Allen admits Dream Baby Dream holds a large part of his heart, he insists the majority of that vessel belongs to his wife.
“I know Dawn says that about me loving the filly more, but that just is not true,” he said. “Although she is right, I do probably spend more time with her, but when I do try to get home Dawn tells me I need to be with the filly. Dawn was the one that made me realize just how special this is.
“This filly is one of a handful of horses I have had with this kind of intelligence. I’ve had horses with all the talent in the world that just could not get it. It makes the difference. Also, Dawn was the one that finally made me realize that when you go from breaking 25 horses a year and always having a couple that can race, to only having two or three a year, it becomes a whole lot harder to get a really good one. I wasn’t used to that and it took her explaining it to me to really get it.”
Although the Allens hope to be in the winner’s circle on Saturday evening, Dream Baby Dream has a full schedule for the rest of the season.
“After this we will take her up to Canada, then of course there is that race on Hambletonian Day and a few things after that,” Allen said. “Then we will take her to Lexington, the Breeders Crown and hopefully the Matron. She will have plenty of races to show the world she is a star. The only way you can do that is by taking on top competition like Ariana G.
“To truly become the best, horses have to be tested and that is why we are in this sport, too; the competition is what it is all about. And even if you think you have the best horse, you never know what is going to happen on any given day. Just ask me as I was there with Suzie in the Hambletonian. I never imagined she would break, but she did and this filly or any other one can too, but you have to be in there to win it.”
For full fields and odds for both divisions of the Delvin Miller Memorial and the seven other stakes events on the card, including the $738,550 Meadowlands Pace, please click here.