Connections Reflect On Walner's Career


Walner was nothing short of a phenomenon over every harness racing venue he set hoof on during his career.

Now, the son of Chapter Seven has brought that same phenomenal talent to the breeding shed, and neither his trainer, Linda Toscano, nor David Reid, who put together the stallion syndicate for Walner, are surprised by his success.

“He was such a phenomenal athlete himself that it’s not surprising that he is passing his speed on to his babies,” said Toscano. “I wish the world could have seen what he was capable of on the racetrack, but ultimately, the industry needed him in this spot—breeding-wise—so desperately because we had backed ourselves in the corner regarding broodmares. And him being an outcross, I’m not surprised by his success as a sire, just thrilled. I think there’ll be a great number of Chapter Sevens who will excel as sires.”

Walner retired as world champion with a Dan Patch Award-winning two-year-old season, career earnings of $567,652 from nine wins in 10 starts and a three-year-old record of 1:50.2. As a freshman, he captured New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) events at Vernon Downs and Saratoga Raceway, the Kindergarten at The Meadowlands, the International Stallion Stakes at The Red Mile and the Breeders Crown elimination and final at The Meadowlands. At three, he was the early favourite to win the Hambletonian, but a strain to the inside branch of his right front suspensory halted his career after he had won a conditioned trot and the Stanley Dancer Memorial at The Big M in 1:50.2.

“He was simply brilliant at two,” said David Reid, president of Preferred Equine, which sold Walner as a yearling and later syndicated the horse for stallion duty. “The injury that prevented him from going on at three ended his career and a lot of credit has to go to Linda Toscano to make that hard decision. Do you, as a trainer, push on with an injury that could hurt him further? The talent was obviously there and the horse was managed perfectly during his racing career, but Linda did what was in the best interest of the horse.”

Toscano agrees.

“It was very difficult,” she admitted. “Rarely do you get a chance to have a horse that would compete in the Hambletonian, let alone one that would have been 1-9. And, it was such a minor injury, but it was an injury. He was such a great horse and the injury was there, and we certainly did not want him to go out there and not be 100 per cent, and Ken [owner Jacobs] agreed it was the right thing to do not to race the horse.  At the end of the day, you’ve got to take care of the horse. Sure, it stung, but it was the right thing to do for him.”

Walner brought $90,000 as a yearling at the 2015 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, selling in the second session as Hip No. 163, in a year in which the average for Chapter Seven youngsters brought $55,000.

“I remember when I first saw him in the spring of his yearling year, and he just looked different,” offered Reid. “He had a little more leg and was very athletic—he stood out, in my opinion.”

Walner is the second foal (2014) out of the Ken Warkentin 3, 1:52.3 ($1,066,946) mare Random Destiny 3, 1:54.1s ($691,223) and has half-brothers in Elmo Blatch (by Andover Hall) 5, 1:53.3f ($152,917) and Malibu S (by Muscle Hill) 2, 1:58.1f ($8,460). Bred by Overseas Farms Ltd., he was foaled on April 12, 2014, in Campbellville, Ont., and began his first season at stud in 2018. He has bred a full book of 140 mares annually, standing at Southwind Farms in New Jersey for a fee of $40,000.

“He’s an outcross and so he’s able to breed a large cross section of mares, and more importantly to Muscle Hill mares, and that’s attributed to his success,” stressed Reid. “With his ability to breed to Cantab Hall and Donator Hanover mares as well, he really opened up the access to a lot of great bloodlines.”

To date Walner has sired 149 starters, with 109 in 2:00 or faster and 56 sub-1:55 trotters, who have earned $16,585,467. He’s produced 42 trotters who have earned $100,000 or more, with 13 who have earned $250,000 or better.  He has three $1 million earners to his credit and eight who have earned half a million or higher. In 2022, he was the leading sire of two- and three-year-olds as his progeny earned more than $10.9 million and his daughter, Fashion Schooner, famously captured the Hambletonian Oaks for three-year-old trotting fillies.

“There was a lot of interest outside the U.S. regarding the horse, but we’re very happy that he remained state-side,” stated Reid. “When we syndicated Walner, we put together a great group of breeders, and that’s certainly a strong asset to have, as it provides a great pool of mares as well. Southwind Farms manages the horse day-to-day and we work in unison with them as far as the syndicate goes. The big plus with this horse is that he has a great temperament; he’s very nice to be around and is very classy. I’m not surprised by his success—his numbers speak for himself—both on the track and in the sales ring.”

Walner’s top progeny include: King Of The North 3, 1:50.3s-‘22 ($1,370,242); Venerable 2,1:52-’21 ($1,348,176); Jiggy Jog S 3, 1:50.0-‘22 ($1,250,293); Temporal Hanover 3, 1:52.2s-‘22 ($991,847); Special Way 2,1:52.0s-’22 ($821,850); Raised By Lindy 3, 1:51.1-‘22 ($755,202); Fashion Schooner 3, 1:50.1-‘22 ($723,786); Walner Payton 2, 1:52.2-‘22 ($574,337); and Misswalner Fashion 3, 1:52.2-’22 ($437,168).

“I’m such a proud mama, getting to watch those babies on the racetrack,” offered Toscano. “Tim [driver Tetrick] and I are probably the only people who know what this horse could really do—speed wise.  Ultimately, I’m always more about winning the race than I am about speed, but he was just so phenomenal and trotted so fast with so little effort that there’s no telling what he would have done in Lexington that year.”

(With files from Harnesslink)

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