Best In Show's Meadowlands Pace upset caps dream week for Toscano

By Mike Farrell, Meadowlands Media

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — What a week for Linda Toscano.

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On July 7, the trainer gave a gracious acceptance speech at her induction to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., and on July 13, she stood in the winner’s circle after Best In Show pulled a 27-1 upset in the $682,650 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace.

It was the perfect bookend to a seven-day span she’ll never forget.

“This another one I never dreamed of,” Toscano said after becoming the first female trainer to win the Pace. “This is home for me. This is awesome.”

In a thrilling finish, Best In Show slipped through an opening on the rail to defeat his more heralded rivals. He got up by a head over Bettor’s Wish, the brave first-over challenger who couldn’t have raced much better.

Right in the mix was Workin Ona Mystery in third, with the pacesetting Captain Crunch, the North America Cup winner and the 1-2 favorite in the Pace, a close-up fourth in the blanket finish.

The time was 1:48 on the warm evening for the track’s signature race.

Brian Sears, also a Hall of Famer, gave Best In Show a perfect ground-saving drive. Best In Show left alertly before readily yielding to let the favorites duke it out while settling into fourth.

“I knew they were racing pretty good,” Sears said. “It was all the horses to beat and they were going at it. I was pretty content. I wanted to sneak him around there a little bit. I got a little opening, and he fired for me.”

And he fired up the tote board.

Best In Show paid $56.20, $14.40 and $6.80. Bettor’s Wish returned $4.00 and $2.80. Workin Ona Mystery paid $3.80 to show.

The time was 1:48 after clipping through aggressive fractions of :26.2, :52.4 and a blazing 1:19.3 to the three-quarter pole

It was fourth win in 12 starts for Best In Show, who competed in a non-winners of two races condition as recently as May.

“We knew he was a nice colt last year and he got a little colt sore on us,” Toscano said. “We shut him down, brought him back and he’s done everything right.”

Best In Show has been rapidly making up for that lost time.

The son of Bettor’s Delight out of Put On A Show earned $341,325 as a homebred for Richard P. Young & Joanne Young. He turned in a pair of second-place finishes in his previous two starts, an Ontario Sires Stakes and his Pace elimination behind Bettor’s Wish.

Crystal Fashion upends Atlanta in Hambletonian Maturity

By Jay Bergman, Meadowlands Media

An extra eighth of a mile can make the difference, and that seemed to be the case when 23-1 shot Crystal Fashion drove by heavy favorite Atlanta nearing the wire to capture the $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-olds at The Meadowlands for driver Tim Tetrick.

The outcome of the race appeared to go through the 1-5 favorite Atlanta, as Yannick Gingras got her away in third in the early stages while Crystal Fashion wrestled the lead from Custom Cantab through a :26.1 opening quarter. Gingras hit the accelerator, and Atlanta hustled to the front after the opening fraction. Atlanta appeared in complete command through a half in :55 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:23.1, with Manchego on the offensive but Gingras appearing relaxed and ready to sprint home.

The fourth quarter had Atlanta leading through a 1:50.2 mile, but the mare started to bear out, enabling Tetrick and Crystal Fashion to find room along the pylons to go by the favorite. Custom Cantab and David Miller flew to the finish and came up just a nose off the winner, with Atlanta third past the finish line. However, a judges' inquiry into the race revealed that Custom Cantab had in fact interfered with three horses — Phaetosive, Fiftydallarbill and Six Pack — and was placed behind them as a result. The revised order of finish elevated Atlanta to second, with Six Pack placed third and Manchego fourth.

Crystal Fashion is a 4-year-old gelding by Cantab Hall trained by Jim Campbell for Fashion Farms LLC of New Hope, Pa. Sent off at 23-1, Crystal Fashion returned $48.20 in his third win of the season in seven starts.

"I wanted to be forwardly placed," said Tetrick following the victory. "I followed Atlanta last week and it didn't work out. I thought the extra distance would help my horse."

Crystal Fashion completed the mile and one-eighth distance in 2:04.3.

Hannelore Hanover, Shartin N hold off charges to take Miss Versatility and Golden Girls

By Lou Monaco, Meadowlands Media

Hannelore Hanover, the 2017 Horse of the Year, proved to be too much in the second leg of the $40,000 Miss Versatility.

A surprising 9-5 second choice, Hannelore Hanover held off a late charge by even-money favorite Darling Mearas S to capture her second straight victory by three-quarters of a length in 1:50.2.

Both mares went head-to-head at the top of the stretch, but Hannelore Hanover, driven by Yannick Gingras, dug in and had an extra gear It was her third win of the year and it raised her total to 45 victories in 76 lifetime starts.

“She was very good tonight and hopefully she can build from here,” said Gingras. “When she got alongside me, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but when he did get there, my horse was digging and the last 10 to 15 strides I knew I was home free.”

The Swedish-owned and bred Darling Mearas S, driven by up-and-coming star Dexter Dunn, joined J L Cruze (2015) and Plunge Blue Chip (2018) just last Saturday as the only 1:49.4 performers in the history of the Big M.

Hannelore Hanover paid $5.80 to win for her efforts in the eight-horse field.

Satin Dancer finished third at 99-1, and Ice Attraction finished fourth at 44-1.

Shartin N wins ninth straight in Golden Girls

Shartin N, the 1-5 favorite driven by Tim Tetrick, took command early and held off a charging Caviart Ally and Andy McCarthy by three-quarters of a length to win the $179,550 Golden Girls TVG for pacing mares, covering a mile and an eighth in 2:02.1.

Shartin N, who paid $2.40 to win, recorded her ninth straight victory and her 10th of 11 starts this season, and she captured career win number 36 in 48 lifetime starts.

“My trainer (Jim King, Jr.) told me that we were good to go off the layoff and that’s who I believe,” said owner JoAnn Looney-King. “She is so easy and is such a happy horse. I’m so blessed to have this mare.”

Apple Bottom Jeans took third at 19-1, and 15-1 Seaswift Joy N finished fourth.

Greenshoe rebounds, Swandre The Giant upsets in Dancer

By Ken Weingartner, Meadowlands Media

Greenshoe rebounded from his first loss of the season with a commanding 1:50.1 win in the second of two $153,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial divisions for 3-year-old male trotters at The Meadowlands, defeating Pilot Discretion by 3-3/4 lengths to stamp himself as the favorite for the Aug. 3 Hambletonian. Super Schissel was third, another eight lengths back.

The time was one-fifth of a second off the stakes and track record for a 3-year-old male trotter set by Six Pack in a division of last year’s Dancer Memorial.

In the first Dancer division, Swandre The Giant overtook favorite Green Manalishi S in the stretch to win by one length in a career-best 1:51.3. Reign Of Honor finished third.

Greenshoe, beaten a head in the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial on June 29, started from post seven in the Dancer and settled in third behind Pilot Discretion and Don’t Let’em for the first half of the race. Driver Brian Sears put Greenshoe in motion from there and was alongside Pilot Discretion as they came out of the final turn before cruising to victory.

“All along he’s been a really talented colt, has a really high turn of speed, and he showed it tonight,” Sears said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked all year long and he’s done it pretty easily, pretty in hand, so we’re real happy with where we’re at right now.”

Greenshoe, who was the 1-5 favorite, is trained by Marcus Melander for owners Courant Inc., Hans Backe, Lars Granqvist and Morten Langli. He has won six of nine career races and earned $403,223.

Last year, the highly regarded colt went off stride behind the starting gate or at the beginning of each of his four races, although he was able to recover and win two. The son of Father Patrick out of Designed To Be has been on his best behavior this year for Sears.

“I’m always nervous when he races,” Melander said. “Even if he’s behaved in all his starts this year, I still don’t trust him because you know one little misstep can cost you the race. Today (Sears) left a little bit out of there (from the gate) and kept him calm, and he behaved.”

In the second division, David Miller drove Swandre The Giant to his first Grand Circuit win after picking up nine of his 10 previous victories in Indiana Sires Stakes competition. The colt, a son of Swan For All out of Adagio, is trained by Ron Burke for owners Diamond Creek Racing, J&T Silva Stables and Howard Taylor.

Swandre The Giant, sent off at odds of 5-1, raced without shoes and added Lasix for his Meadowlands debut. He has won 11 of 18 career starts and $417,568. He has won two of six races this season.

“It was definitely the Lasix, and they pulled his shoes off too,” driver David Miller said after Swandre The Giant snapped a four-race skid. “He felt really strong. Through the stretch I was getting by (Green Manalishi S) without even asking him yet. He trotted right on by. He went a huge mile.”

Last year, Swandre The Giant won his first seven starts, all in Indiana, for trainer-driver Brandon Bates before being sold to his current owners.

“He dominated Indiana and Brandon did a great job developing him,” Diamond Creek’s Adam Bowden said. “This is the kind of horse that we saw. Finally, he realized that.”

Evident Beauty, Millies Possession strong in Del Miller

By Jay Bergman, Meadowlands Media

Heavy public choice Evident Beauty marched to the front for driver David Miller and never looked back, scoring in the $124,000 first division of the Del Miller Memorial for 3-year-old trotting fillies.

The New Jersey-bred daughter of Trixton stopped the timer in 1:52.3, equaling her lifetime best.

Evident Beauty, trained by Richard "Nifty" Norman for owners Melvin Hartman, Little E LLC and RAW Equine, displaced Beautiful Sin from the lead at the :28.3 opening quarter. From there a soft :57.3 half gave the 1-5 favorite the confidence she would need. Cloud Nine Fashion and Tim Tetrick made a strong coverless challenge at the half and looked on the verge of going by the favorite through three-quarters timed in 1:25.3.

But once into the homestretch, Evident Beauty was driven by Miller and found her best stride to turn back Cloud Nine Fashion with a :27 final quarter.

Miss Trixton finished third behind the winner, who returned $2.40 as the prohibitive favorite.

"I felt pretty confident," Miller said after the second-half duel. "My mare held strong."

The $126,500 Del Miller division saw Millies Possession remain undefeated, capturing her seventh straight career outing in impressive fashion. The Fashion Farms LLC homebred by Possess The Will scored in 1:53.2.

Dexter Dunn rated Millies Possession in the early stages, allowing Starita to cut fractions of :28.1 and :57.3 before taking any interest. Dunn moved up methodically as Sears and Starita hit three-quarters in 1:26 and were in control. But in the homestretch, Millies Possession just kept eating up ground and devoured the leader, eventually drawing clear with a :27.2 final quarter. Queen Of Trixs was airborne in closing late for second, with The Ice Dutchess finishing third.

Also sent off as the public choice, Millies Possession returned $3.00 to win.

"I knew we were going slow, but at the moment she seems to overcome these kind of trips," said Dunn of Millies Possession, who last week was parked the mile winning the Reynolds and followed it up with another overland journey.

The victory capped a huge night for trainer Jim Campbell and Fashion Farms, who captured the $450,000 Hambletonian Maturity earlier in the night with Crystal Fashion.

Lather Up strikes again in Haughton Memorial

By Lou Monaco, Meadowlands Media

Lather Up, the fastest horse in the 43-year history of The Meadowlands, captured the $423,000 William R Haughton Memorial.

The 4-year-old stallion, trained by Clyde Francis of the George Teague Jr. stable and driven by Montrell Teague, never missed a beat after taking the lead prior to the half mile in :53.1, and stormed home to complete a mile and an eighth in 2:01.1 over 10-1 This Is The Plan, driven by Yannick Gingras.

A week earlier, Lather Up won the $250,000 Graduate Series final by equaling the all-time mile record of 1:46 set by then 5-year-old Always B Miki at Red Mile three years ago. He also broke the previous 4-year-old pacing mark of 1:46.4, previously shared by Warrawee Needy and Dr J Hanover.

“I just wanted to make sure I was up close and wanted to be close to the pace,” said Montrell Teague. “I was happy with the fractions. It’s a bit different at a mile and an eighth, because you're not sure how fast you are going, but I was trying not to back down and he got the job done.”

Lather Up, who paid $5.80 to his backers to win, improved his record to 6-0-1 in nine starts.

“Montrell does a great job with him and he (Lather Up) can do whatever he wants. That’s how good he has been racing,” said Francis.

This Is The Plan, who finished second in four of his last five starts, took the runner-up spot again, while Always a Prince and David Miller finished third.

Stonebridge Soul wires fillies in Mistletoe Shalee

By Ken Weingartner, Meadowlands Media

Stonebridge Soul led from start to finish to capture Saturday’s $207,700 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old female pacers by a neck over Tall Drink Hanover in 2:04.2 for 1-1/8 miles at the Meadowlands. Warrawee Ubeaut, the 4-5 favorite, finished third.

Tim Tetrick drove Stonebridge Soul, a daughter of Somebeachsomewhere out of Rock N Soul, for trainer Chris Ryder and owners Henderson Farms and Bob Mondillo. The filly, sent off at odds of 3-1, has won seven of 17 career races and earned $443,846.

Stonebridge Soul’s victory was her second consecutive Grand Circuit score, following her triumph in the Lynch Memorial on June 29. 

“People said she got lucky in the Lynch,” Ryder said. “That was ridiculous, and she proved it tonight.”

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