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Slew Of Trotting Stars To The Big M

Published: April 25, 2014 1:56 pm ET

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A bevy of upper echelon trotting stars are expected to take to the track this weekend during the Saturday qualifying session at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Even now as trainer Linda Toscano thinks about five-year-old trotter Market Share’s path to stardom, she shakes her head in disbelief.

“Timmy and I were talking about it the other day,” Toscano said, referring to Market Share’s regular driver, Tim Tetrick. “Never, never in a million years did we dream that this horse could be this kind of horse. He’s just one of those horses that enjoys his work and tries real hard. It’s surprising, but that’s good.”

Market Share, a two-time Dan Patch Award-winning division champion, is expected to be among the numerous big names heading to the Meadowlands on Saturday morning for qualifiers. Also in that group should be Jimmy Takter trotting standouts Father Patrick, Nuncio, and Shake It Cerry.

As a two-year-old Market Share won all five of his starts at half-mile-oval Freehold Raceway, but Toscano and principal owner Richard Gutnick were uncertain if he could excel at the big tracks, such as the Meadowlands.

All Market Share did at age three was win the $1.5 million Hambletonian at the Meadowlands and the $1 million Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk Racetrack en route to earnings of $2 million. He was named the Dan Patch Award winner for best three-year-old male trotter.

Last season, his wins included the Breeders Crown Open Trot, Maple Leaf Trot, TVG Free For All Series Championship and American-National Stakes. He led all older trotters with $1.07 million in purses and received the Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter.

“It’s a treat to be able to bring one back like that as a five-year-old,” Toscano said. “Fortunately his owner likes to race. Hopefully he’ll come back as good as he was.

“By bringing back the older horses, people recognize the names and the horses become the stars again. I think that’s what is missing in our industry. I think it’s a real good thing.”

Gutnick, who was harness racing’s Owner of the Year in 2012 when he also campaigned Horse of the Year Chapter Seven, shares ownership of Market Share with TLP Stable and Bill Augustine.

Jimmy Takter expects to bring more than a dozen horses to Saturday’s qualifiers at the Meadowlands, among them some of the biggest names in harness racing: Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry, Nuncio, and Lifetime Pursuit.

Father Patrick was last season’s Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old male trotter and Shake It Cerry was the Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old female trotter. Nuncio, who last year raced for trainer Jim Oscarsson but joined the Takter Stable during the winter after Oscarsson returned to his native Sweden, was a stakes winner and four-time runner-up to Father Patrick. Lifetime Pursuit also was a stakes winner.

In the Hoof Beats predictive rankings for three-year-old trotters, based on projected earnings this season, Father Patrick, Shake It Cerry and Nuncio all rated in the top four. Lifetime Pursuit was No. 12.

“All of them are coming back awesome,” Takter said. “It should be interesting.”

Another of Takter’s standouts, five-year-old trotter Uncle Peter, debuts Friday night at the Meadowlands. Uncle Peter earned $519,232 last year – second to only Market Share among older trotters – and trotted the fastest mile ever by a four-year-old on a five-eighths-mile track, 1:50.3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Market Share and Uncle Peter have both been mentioned as possible invitees for the prestigious Elitlopp in Sweden, but trainers Toscano and Takter are taking wait-and-see approaches when it comes to deciding whether they would send the horses. Travel logistics are a concern, as well as wanting to see how the horses race this season.

“If he goes out Friday and shows me something, I might go to Denmark first and race him two weeks earlier in the Copenhagen Cup,” Takter said about Uncle Peter. “We’ll see. He’s the world record holder on the five-eighths track. He’s a good horse.”

The Copenhagen Cup, traditionally held the second weekend in June, is May 11 this year. The Elitlopp is May 25.


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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