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Toscano: "Give Them All An Honest Chance"

Published: November 9, 2011 8:17 pm ET

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Of the three horses from trainer Linda Toscano’s barn in this weekend’s Matron Stakes at Dover Downs, Breeders Crown winner Chapter Seven and New York Sire Stakes champion Heston Blue Chip are likely to get much of the attention, but do not overlook Forever Just. He has done nothing but surprise Toscano throughout the season.

“He’s been an overachiever from day one,” said Toscano about the two-year-old pacing colt, who has won seven of 13 races and earned $188,689 for owners Stake Your Claim Stable and Fred Wallace. “He’s been such a pleasant surprise this year. We thought he was going to be an OK sire stakes horse and never dreamed he would achieve what he has so far this year. He’s raced against, and beaten, some very good horses this year.”

Forever Just and Heston Blue Chip are in Saturday’s $177,275 Matron Stakes for two-year-old male pacers. A son of Bettors Delight out of the stakes-winning mare Forever Cam, Forever Just was purchased for $35,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. Forever Just’s second dam is 1991 Jugette winner and Breeders Crown runner-up Sara Loren Rd.

A five-time winner on the New York Sire Stakes circuit, Forever Just was second to Heston Blue Chip in the $175,000 final on October 1 at Saratoga Casino and Raceway. He also won divisions of the Tompkins-Geers and Simpson stakes.

“I tell my owners all the time, you give them all a chance,” said Toscano. “You don’t count anybody out. You train them all down together and you give them all an honest chance. You never know until you get them to the races which ones are going to pop up and surprise you. You just have to race them.

“Going back in time, probably one of the worst training horses I ever trained was [world champion] Jet Laag – and a million dollars later he made a liar out of me. Some of them are bored with training. When they get to the races that’s when it becomes fun.”

Forever Just finished seventh in last week’s Matron Stakes elimination for two-year-old male pacers, which was won by John McDermott’s Hurrikane Kingcole in 1:51.2. Forever Just was 10 lengths behind, but Toscano was not overly concerned.

“He was a victim of a very fast last three-quarters and he was coming from the back,” she said. “He’s got some good tactical gate speed; whether or not they use it this week, I don’t know. John McDermott’s colt is a good colt. We’ll give it our best shot.”

Forever Just will start from post No. 7 with driver Tony Morgan and is 15-1 on the morning line. Heston Blue Chip will start from Post 6 with driver Tim Tetrick and is 6-5 while Hurrikane Kingcole got Post 3, with driver David Miller, and is 1-1.

Heston Blue Chip has won 10 of 12 races and finished second twice, including in last week’s elim. A son of American Ideal-Shot Togo Bluechip, he was purchased for $30,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Ken Jacobs. Heston Blue Chip’s family includes Kikikatie, who was the Dan Patch Award winner as best two-year-old pacing filly in 2003.

“He’s been a really good horse all year,” said Toscano. “I think he’s a hair better than just a [sire stakes] program. We wanted to try him once just so we kind of had an idea how to stake him next year.”

Chapter Seven drew post No. 3 in Sunday’s $174,940 Matron Stakes for three-year-old male trotters. Hambletonian winner Broad Bahn also is among the field’s eight horses, along with Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion Opening Night.

Last weekend, Chapter Seven and driver Tim Tetrick won the Matron elim by three-quarters of a length over Broad Bahn in 1:53.4. Chapter Seven has won four consecutive races, including the Breeders Crown, for owners Richard Gutnick, Gary Cocco, Southwind Farm and Jerry Silva. For the year, he has five victories in nine starts and $677,049 in purses.

“Chapter Seven is finally living up to what I thought he could do,” said Toscano. “He’s a very good horse that’s kind of been through the mill this year. The last couple races he’s probably been as good as he’s been all year. He’s a good horse. I hope he goes out there again and does what I know he’s capable of.”

Here is the field for the Matron Stakes for two-year-old male pacers with listed drivers and trainers:

1. Mattacardle, Corey Callahan, Rich Gillock
2. Steelhead Hanover, Joe Pavia Jr., Pavia Jr.
3. Hurrikane Kingcole, David Miller, John McDermott
4. Divulge, Marcus Johansson, Jimmy Takter
5. Bakin On The Beach, Ross Wolfenden, Mark Harder
6. Heston Blue Chip, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano
7. Forever Just, Anthony Morgan, Toscano
8. Allstar Legend, Andy Miller, George Teague Jr.

Here is the field for the Matron Stakes for three-year-old male trotters with listed drivers and trainers:

1. Opening Night, John Campbell, Jim Campbell
2. Big Rigs, Dave Palone, Kelly O’Donnell
3. Chapter Seven, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano
4. Magnum Kosmos, Anthony Morgan, Tabitha Teresczuk
5. Im The Answer, Trond Smedshammer, Smedshammer
6. Broad Bahn, George Brennan, Noel Daley
7. Bambino Hall, Ron Pierce, Tyler Raymer
8. Big Sky Storm, Brian Sears, Andrew Adamczyk.

Other stakes action at Dover Downs on Sunday sees Adios champion Alsace Hanover as the 6-5 morning line favourite in the $330,000 Progress Pace for three-year-olds. He has won eight of 16 races this year, including his Progress Pace elim by a nose over Rock To Glory in 1:50.1, and earned $790,085. He will start from Post 3 with driver Ron Pierce for trainer Tony O’Sullivan. Fashion Delight won the other Progress elim, beating Avenue Hanover by one length in 1:52.1. He drew Post 7 for driver George Brennan and trainer Jim Campbell. The remainder of the field is Samandar, Mr Tommy Fra, Westwardho Hanover, and Lookinforadventure.

Breeders Crown winner Cedar Dove is the 6-5 favourite in the $151,990 Matron for three-year-old trotting fillies. She won the elimination race by a half-length over Beatgoeson Hanover in 1:55.2. Cedar Dove starts from Post 6 with Pierce driving for trainer Noel Daley. The rest of the field is Jezzy, Firstclassprincess, Love N Hate, Crys Dream, Hey Mister, and Martiniontherocks.

Drop The Ball is the 3-5 favourite in the six-horse $116,000 Matron for three-year-old filly pacers. She won the event’s prep race by 2-1/4 lengths over Strike An Attitude in 1:51.4. Drop The Ball, who was second in the Breeders Crown, will be driven by Yannick Gingras for trainer Jeff Webster and start from Post 4. The rest of the Matron field is Foxy Lady, Southwind Jazmin, Myluvmylife, and Hasty Pulse.


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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