10/18/2004 11:00PM

Vivian: No regrets now about tiny filly

Jim Lisa
Aclassysassylassy goes for a sweep of the Florida Stallion series.

MIAMI - Trainer Dave Vivian will be the first to admit that Aclassysassylassy was not among the top 30 2-year-olds on his preference list at last April's Ocala Breeders' Sale, and that after bidding $32,000 on the daughter of Wild Event, he was praying somebody else would go to $33,000 for the pint-sized filly.

When she first arrived at Calder, Vivian remembers thinking that Aclassysassylassy looked like a Shetland pony next to the other horses in the barn.

hasn't grown much in the six months since being acquired by Vivian. But she currently stands tall over the local 2-year-old filly division and on Saturday will achieve a rare feat if she can add the $400,000 My Dear Girl Stakes to earlier one-sided victories in the Desert Vixen and Susan's Girl stakes.

Aclassysassylassy will attempt to join Nancy's Glitter as only the second filly to sweep all three divisions of the Florida Stallion series in the 23-year history of the event. Such a telling statistic is not lost on a veteran horseman such as Vivian.

"Obviously, it's hard for any 2-year-old to sweep a series like the Stallion Stakes, and particularly difficult for a filly," said Vivian, 75. "It's a demanding series to begin with, especially for lightly raced 2-year-olds. The My Dear Girl can be grueling, since many of these young horses have never even been around two turns yet. And the hot weather down here during the summer really takes a lot out of a horse, especially fillies, even with the races spaced fairly well apart."

Aclassysassylassy has yet to race beyond seven furlongs, and her ability to handle 1 1/16 miles for the first time will go a long way in determining whether she will add her name to the Stallion Stakes record books, or join the list of six other fillies who have won the opening two legs but failed to complete the sweep in the My Dear Girl.

"It's difficult to tell if a young horse will handle the extra distance at this stage of their career," said Vivian, who along with his wife, Barbara, owns Aclassysassylassy in partnership with longtime owner Dominic Vittese. "The only ones you can really rule out are the horses with no breeding for stamina on either side of their pedigree."

Vivian is confident Aclassysassylassy's pedigree suggests she will have little problem handling the added ground.

"Her sire, Wild Event, was at his best going a mile and three-eighths on the turf and her mother [Musical Halo] also won going long," Vivian said. "The filly is doing well and I'm happy where we are going into the race. But I can't wait for Saturday to get here. This whole thing has been a nerve-racking experience."

Nerve-racking indeed. That's especially true considering the experience Vivian and his little filly went through one morning several weeks ago.

"She was out training in the dark and appeared to have completed her gallop without any problem," said Vivian. "I went back to the barn and waited for my filly to return but she never came back. Little did I know she had propped and wheeled somewhere out near the half-mile pole, lost her rider, and had run back to the stable area without a bridle on. We finally found her a couple of barns away, fortunately none the worse for wear. Luckily she didn't go down on the road back there or there's no telling what kind of damage she might have done to herself."

A victory by Aclassysassylassy and a sweep of the Stallion Stakes would be the highlight of what has already been a successful career for Vivian, who took out his first training license at Blue Bonnets in Montreal in 1952. He enjoyed considerable success in New England before relocating on a permanent basis to south Florida in 1984.

"I had a good-sized public stable in New England, but gave it up to train privately for Roy Cohen," Vivian recalled. "It was a great opportunity and I don't regret making the move for one minute. Roy and I were together for 17 years. He went first class all the way and opened a lot of doors for me."

Vivian is also no stranger to Stallion Stakes success. He plucked Plum Country out of the claiming ranks for $50,000 and Plum Country went on to upset the then-undefeated U Can Do It in the 1995 Susan's Girl. The following year he spoiled Blazing Sword's attempt to sweep the open division with His Honor.

"Winning this race Saturday means a lot to me - a real lot," Vivian admitted. "I haven't done that well the last few years, and I bought this filly with my case money at the sale. Now I own half a horse on the verge of sweeping the Stallion Stakes, and her success is extra special because it means I've been able to fight back again."