Forrest Bartlett knows what it is like to own a star. In 1986, Bartlett’s pacer Forrest Skipper went undefeated in 15 races and was named Horse of the Year.
Bartlett also knows how difficult it is to grasp another star, even when one continues to reach for them. But now, after 36 years, Vivians Dream might provide Bartlett with his long-awaited stellar sequel.
Vivians Dream has won six of seven races this season heading into Saturday’s $200,000 New York Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old female pacers at Tioga Downs, which hosts the NYSS series eight divisional finals beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT). Vivians Dream, whose only setback was by a neck, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite.
Her earnings of $206,675 rank No. 2 among all 2-year-old female pacers in North America (less than $2,000 from the top spot) and her best win time of 1:50.4 (set in a track-record performance at Vernon Downs) is tied for fourth.
“I had Forrest Skipper in 1986 and I’ve really tried hard to find another one since then,” said Bartlett, a 79-year-old North Carolina resident.
“I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, but I would love for this one to be a nice one. And she is a nice one. She’s a very nice filly. She’s the joy. I get just as excited about her as I did for Forrest Skipper. I think I really appreciate her more than I did Skip at the time. I was young then and I didn’t even realize hardly what I had. But I know how hard it is to get a nice horse nowadays.”
In an interesting coincidence, two weeks after Vivians Dream debuted with a track-record win at Buffalo Raceway, Lucien Fontaine — who drove Forrest Skipper — was elected to the Hall of Fame.
“I hope so,” Bartlett said.
Vivians Dream is a daughter of American Ideal-Sports Chic. Bartlett purchased Vivians Dream, whose dam is a three-quarter sister to Hall of Fame race mare Rainbow Blue, for $50,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale.
From the beginning, Bartlett was impressed with Vivians Dream.
“I love breaking them and getting them ready,” Bartlett said. “She did everything like she’d already done it the week before. She always acted like an older horse. We put the harness on her one day and jogged her the next. She was just something different.
“She’s not hotheaded. She just takes care of herself, which I think means a lot, especially with young horses. She’s just been a perfect horse, really. She doesn’t want anything to get by her. The time she got beat, they had a blind bridle on her, and I don’t think she saw that horse (Earthwindfire) coming. We’re racing her now with an open bridle.”
Vivians Dream, trained by Cory Mumford, will have Jordan Stratton in the sulky for Saturday’s NYSS championship. If all continues to go well, she will head to the Grand Circuit next. She is eligible to the She’s A Great Lady Stakes, the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes in Lexington, and Breeders Crown.
“We’re going to try to play with the big girls,” Bartlett said. “I just hope she stays sound. If she stays sound, she’ll be knocking on their door.
“She’s just been a dream.”