Toscano Trainees Seek Crowns In Yonkers Stakes

Sadie Hanover winning at Freehold
Published: June 29, 2023 12:38 pm EDT

Linda Toscano will send out highly regarded contenders in Friday’s two stakes races for three-year-old fillies at MGM Yonkers Raceway with trotter Sadie Hanover looking to remain undefeated this season and pacer Ucandoit Blue Chip, who holds a special connection to the trainer’s heart, aiming to continue her own winning ways.

Sadie Hanover (pictured above) is five-for-five this year as she heads to the $100,000 New York New York Mile for sophomore female trotters. The race attracted a field of nine horses, with all advancing directly to the final, which will be contested at an added distance of 1-1/16 miles. Eight horses will be on the starting gate while one, Warrawee Yes, will leave from the second tier.

Scott Zeron will drive Sadie Hanover, who starts from post two. She is 5-2 on the morning line, the second choice behind 2-1 favourite Walner Payton.

Last season, Sadie Hanover won one of five races and finished third four times on her way to $17,400 in purses. This year, the daughter of Chapter Seven-Southwind Percy opened her campaign with a Grand Circuit win in a division of the Lady Suffolk at Freehold Raceway and most recently captured a division of the Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs to push her career earnings to $150,454.

She is the fastest three-year-old filly trotter this season, thanks to her 1:51.3 score in the EBC.

“I loved her last year, but she was going through growing pains,” said Toscano. “She showed enough heart and she showed she had a beautiful gait, she just needed time to mature. She came back this year a different horse. She’s been a pleasure.”

Sadie Hanover has shown versatility in her wins this season, with gate-to-wire triumphs in the Lady Suffolk and EBC and off-the-pace victories in her remaining three starts. In the EBC, she reached the opening quarter-mile in :26.1 and was never threatened.

“Shocking,” Toscano said about the performance. “She had a beautiful trip at Tioga the week before [in a New York Sire Stakes division]; she was second-over and she’s been finishing well. In her last start, because of Vernon, we had to kind of race her a little bit differently. I think we were all surprised that she was as strong and as quick as she was. She’s just a good girl this year.”

Sadie Hanover’s only previous start on a half-mile track, such as Yonkers, was in the Lady Suffolk. She cruised around the Freehold oval in 1:56.3 and won by 10-1/4 lengths.

“She raced really well at Freehold,” said Toscano, who trains Sadie Hanover — a $240,000 yearling purchase at the 2021 Standardbred Horse Sale — for owners The Bay’s Stable, Blue Ridge Stable, Carmen Iannacone and Gary Cocco. “Her versatility is her best quality. She gets around any size racetrack and she’s easy to drive.”

Sadie Hanover is one of eight Hambletonian Oaks-eligible horses in the New York New York Mile. The others are Life Itself, Canterbury Hanover, Walner Payton, Emira Mil IT, Tipsy Moni, Secret Volo and Warrawee Yes.

Walner Payton, trained by Chris Ryder, has hit the board in 14 of 16 career races and earned $620,637. She has won five races and finished second seven times, all behind 2022 Dan Patch Award winner Special Way.

In Friday’s $115,000 Park MGM Filly Pace, which will be contested at the standard one-mile distance, Toscano’s trainee Ucandoit Blue Chip is the 3-1 second choice behind Brett Pelling-trained Earthwindfire at 8-5. Each won her elimination race last week to lead the charge to the final.

Ucandoit Blue Chip, a two-time New Jersey Sire Stakes champion, is a daughter of Keystone Velocity out of Molly Can Do It. Toscano trained Molly Can Do It over her final three seasons of racing and the mare gave the trainer her first Breeders Crown victory in 2002.

A $32,000 yearling buy at the 2021 Standardbred Horse Sale, Ucandoit Blue Chip is owned by Bill Elliott. She is the 11th foal out of Molly Can Do It, and the first trained by Toscano.

“We love Molly,” said Toscano. “[Ucandoit Blue Chip] looks just like her. I really didn’t pick her, Bill Elliott picked her. I have her because of her mother. He came over to me and asked if I would train her. I wanted to train one out of Molly. It’s absolutely special.”

Ucandoit Blue Chip has hit the board in 10 of 13 lifetime starts, winning seven. She won her Park MGM elimination by a nose over True Blue Hanover in 1:53. She will start the final from post two with Zeron in the sulky.

“She never gives you the impression that she’s any good at all, but yet on the other hand, you put her in a race and she knows what to do,” said Toscano. “She’s just kind of like a little machine. She does what we ask her to do. She’s just a nice horse.

“We got a good post, now we just need a little bit of racing luck,” she added.

Friday’s card at Yonkers also includes the $300,000 MGM Yonkers Trot, which is the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown, and the $250,000 MGM Grand Messenger Stakes, the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown.

Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT). For complete entries, click here.

Free TrackMaster past performances for the Saturday card at Yonkers are available on the Standardbred Owners Association of New York website here.

(With files from USTA)

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