From Brooklyn To The Big Time

Published: February 3, 2021 03:42 pm EST

"She is without question the prototype of the great success story. From humble beginnings, she demonstrated her trade with great skill, moving from those modest beginnings to Hambletonian winner to Horse of the Year conditioner and many terrific horses in between."

So said Barry Lefkowitz, vice president and treasurer of the United States Harness Writers Association about fellow Brooklynite Linda Toscano, who fell in love with harness racing in the 1970s and blazed a trail to become one of the sport's most decorated horsewomen.

"I'm Brooklyn all the way," Toscano told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, referring to the Flatbush neighbourhood where she grew up before her family moved to Long Island.

"I was devastated," she continued. "I missed the city and was miserable."

But she soon developed a love for horses and worked with trainer Buddy Regan at the storied Roosevelt Raceway while studying at Stony Brook University before striking out on her own in 1984.

"Things changed ... I was racing all over the country."

In the 3-1/2 decades since, Toscano moved her base of operations to Freehold, N.J., and has amassed over 1,900 training wins. And if that weren't enough, her $54 million in purse earnings have landed her among the top 10 richest stables in harness racing history. Her starters have banked over $2 million in each of the last 14 seasons — none more notable than 2012, when Hambletonian winner Market Share helped Toscano reach a career best $6.69 million in seasonal earnings.

Just two years ago, Toscano shattered the glass ceiling of the United States Harness Racing Hall of Fame, becoming only the second woman to be inducted into the Hall and the first to achieve that honour as a trainer or driver. And this past season, she won a Breeders Crown with rookie trotting filly Lady Chaos and came up a nose short of a second with three-year-old trotting colt Play Trix On Me.

What does 2021 hold for Toscano?

"My niche now is selecting young horses," she says. And given her self-made ascent into harness racing's elite ranks — and the star power in her barn — it looks like that niche will continue to be a prosperous one for Team Toscano.

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