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Grand Slam For Pilgrims Toner


Published: April 3, 2010 8:28 pm ET

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The win streak is now four-in-a-row and counting for the former claimer Pilgrims Toner, who manhandled the foes he faced in Saturday’s $32,000 Invitational Pace at the Meadowlands.

Yannick Gingras mapped out a beautiful two-hole trip for Pilgrims Toner before turning him loose on pacesetter Western Shore as the field motored into the final turn. Western Shore supplied first half fractions of :26.4 and :54.1 before Pilgrims Toner sped to the top and threw done a third panel clocked in 1:21.3.

The Frank Catalfamo student buzzed home in :26.2 to stop the teletimer in 1:49 – a career-best for the six-year-old son of The Panderosa-Beep Beep. The flashy mile also equaled North America’s fastest mile of 2010, which evidently was set earlier this year at the Meadowlands by runner-up Western Shore. Mr Hallowell came on late to finish third.

"There were four claims in on him the night we got him," Catalfamo said. "We were the lucky shaker. The first night we raced him and he finished third [March 27], he was really good that night, but Yannick Gingras said he couldn't hold him. In fact, I think he choked. I changed his driving bit. He had a straight Riegel bit on, and I put a snaffle bit on to control him better."

Catalfamo credits his unusual training regimen as the key to the pacer's successful climb up the class ladder from claimer to invitational winner.

"He's just responded to what I do, which is a little unconventional," he said. "Your normal routine is to jog a horse five miles and train a couple of trips three days out. What I do with this horse is jog three miles, then turn the right way and train two miles. The last half-mile I make him get up on the bit, and maybe go a half in 1:08. I do that every day, along with the basics. It's stamina building. It worked with the last couple of horses I tried it with."

Since being claimed for $50,000 on February 20, Pilgrims Toner has put together a 4-1-0 record in five starts for Catalfamo and the New Jersey partnership of Joseph Spezio, Patrick Daley and Robert Mills. The $16,000 payday pushed the pacer’s lifetime earnings to $285,784.

(With quotes from the Meadowlands)

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