Victory Dream - 1994
Dream Provides ‘Victory’ Revisited Valley Victory looked to be a formidable force in the 1989 Hambletonian, and a match-up with fabulous filly Peace Corps promised a great race. Alas, Valley Victory came down with a virus just days before the contest and was retired from racing. With impeccable breeding, hopes were high for Valley Victory’s career at stud. His first crop of Hambletonian colts came of age in 1994. When the field went behind the gate on August 6, no less than five of his offspring were there looking to avenge their father. Victory Dream had won all seven of his races at the Meadowlands leading up to the Budweiser Beacon Course and was widely considered to be the pre-race Hambletonian favorite but he lost a bit of his luster when he was a flat fourth in the Beacon Course Final. Others that attracted plenty of attention coming into the trotting classic were Yonkers Trot winner Bullville Victory, another son of Valley Victory; Mr Lavec; and Two-Year-Old Champion Wesgate Crown. Victory Dream's driver and trainer, Mike Lachance and Ron Gurfein, had never won a Hambletonian, but his owners, the Antonacci clan of Connecticut, certainly had. Frank Antonacci, who bred the colt along with his brother, Tommy, bought back Victory Dream as a yearling for his wife and daughters. He, along with his cousin, Guy Antonacci, owned 1969 and 1971 Hambletonian winners Lindy's Pride and Speedy Crown. In the first elimination dash, Victory Dream was an easy two and a half length winner in 1:53.4. Bullville Victory edged Mr. Lavec in 1:54.4 in the other. In the final, driver/trainer Jimmy Takter fired Mr. Lavec off the gate and led the way to a :26.3 opening quarter, the fastest such fraction in Hambletonian history. Mike Lachance sent Victory Dream after the leader at that point and was in control at the half, which was trotted in :56.1. Mr. Lavec shadowed the leader to the three-quarters in 1:25.4, but Victory Dream had plenty in the tank to repulse the challenge. Lachance and Victory Dream sailed under the wire in 1:54.4. Mr. Lavec was second in spite of locking wheels with Bullville Victory in deep stretch. Bye Tsem was third, and Smasher was fourth. Smasher is owned by Arelene Traub, who also owned Valley Victory and, like the winner, is from that sire's first crop. The Meadowlands handled $4.9 million total for the Cadillac Hambletonian Day card, a world and track record.
Guy "Sonny" Antonacci, a member of the Victory Dream Stable, has been a co-owner on a record four Hambletonian winners (Lindy's Pride, 1969; Probe, 1989; Harmonious, 1990; Victory Dream, 1994). His sons, Frank and Gerry, who comprise Lindy Racing Stable, have been co-owners on: Victory Dream, Harmonious and Probe. His cousin, Frank J. Antonacci, has been a co-owner of: Lindy's Pride, Speedy Crown and Victory Dream. Victory Dream was from the first crop of Valley Victory, who along with Mystic Park are th youngest sires (4-years-old) to produce a Hambletonian winner. The Minnehaha maternal family producted a record-tying ninth Hambletonian winner. Victory Dream was voted the 3-year-old Trotting Colt of the Year. Runner up Mr. Lavec, although trained in the U.S. by Swedish native Jimmy Takter, was a Swedish-sired and bred colt by 1978 winner Speedy Somolli. He was the first European-sired horse in the classic. (Speedy Somolli was exported and stood in Sweden since 1990). Mr. Lavec finished second in his elim and second in the final beaten 2 3/4 lengths - the best finish ever by a European-bred horse in the Hambletonian. The colt was raised at owner Johan Diedan's farm in Ireland. Amateur driver Mal Burroughs won the Oaks with Gleam.