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Crosby Scoring For His Connections

Published: March 31, 2017 10:43 am ET

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Linda MacDonald had no experience in harness racing when she rode her horse to Medford Davis Jr.’s farm in Smyrna, Del., one day in 1973. But a year later, the teenage MacDonald (nee McNatt) was working in the stables there and upon graduating high school started driving horses for Davis.

MacDonald, whose parents --- a Delaware State Police officer and stay-at-home mom --- had bought her a pony at age 11, recorded 633 of her lifetime 646 wins as a driver over the ensuing 20 years. In 1985, she became the first female driver to win a stakes race at the Meadowlands when she guided the Davis-trained Go Nancy Isle to victory in a New Jersey Sire Stakes event.

In addition, MacDonald has more than 300 wins as a trainer, often competing now with horses she bred with one of Davis’ daughters, Susan Durham. The two longtime friends (“She’s the sister I never had; she’s a sweetheart,” MacDonald said of Durham) hope to add to their breeder-owner win total Monday when they send Crosby to the second round of the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund series for three-year-old male trotters at Dover Downs.

The winner of November’s $100,000 DSBF final for two-year-old male trotters, Crosby is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line in Monday’s first of two $20,000 divisions.

Crosby, who has earned $74,000 thanks to two wins and five on-the-board finishes in six lifetime starts, is the most recent success story for MacDonald and Durham. He is a son of stallion Keystone Activator out of the mare Melody Luv and his family includes previous MacDonald-trained (and Davis-bred) DSBF champions Miss Ella D and Heres Bo Bo, who earned $280,786 in his career.

“We raised and raced the mother (Melody Luv),” MacDonald said. “She got hurt and never really hit her potential. But she was willing and really wanted to trot. Her offspring seem to have a lot of her traits. I was really pleased with Crosby last year. He had a lot of issues being sick, but he’s always been very willing. He’s very level-headed.”

Crosby was limited to five starts last year because of illness, but finished the season with his victory in the DSBF final at Dover. Crosby, driven by George Dennis, rallied from near the rear of the field with a four-wide move on the last turn and trotted home in 2:03.3 on a chilly, windy night.

“Everything worked out right for him,” MacDonald said. “The weather wasn’t the greatest. The fractions were a little too steep for that group of horses and the weather. Everything set up for him. He got great cover that took him right to the last turn and he did the rest.

“George Dennis has done a real good job with him. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”

And while most people wonder whether Crosby was named after singer Bing or hockey star Sidney, the truth is the gelding was named after a riding horse owned by MacDonald’s veterinarian because the two have similar markings.

“He’s chestnut with a big blaze face and one white leg behind,” MacDonald said. “When this colt was born, she said, ‘Oh, little Crosby.’ So that’s where the name came from.”

The favourite, at 2-1, in Crosby’s DSBF division Monday is Master Clave, who won last October’s $100,000 DSBF final at Harrington. Master Clave, trained by John Wilkerson, won his seasonal debut last week in 2:01.1 after going off stride behind the starting gate. Moonshine Lavec, trained by Erika Paradee, is the 2-1 choice in the second division. He also is coming off a victory in last week’s DSBF opening round.

“I thought Moonshine Lavec and Master Clave were the better two last year; I just caught a little luck and won the (November) final,” MacDonald said. “Anything can happen with these green trotters. If (Crosby) stays flat he’ll get a major piece of them. Everything has to be right.”

MacDonald and her husband Joe train a total of a dozen horses at Merrie Medo Farm. While MacDonald enjoyed driving, she is happy with her career as a trainer and racing horses with Durham.

“We stay close to home,” MacDonald said. “Ours aren’t the elite bred; we don’t stake them to other places. We’re content with the races we have here. We’ve done OK.”

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

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