Milton, ON — Trainer Linda Toscano is hoping she’s headed towards the top of harness racing’s “glamour boys” division as she sends out the morning-line favorite Best In Show in the second division of the C$160,000 Somebeachsomewhere Stakes on Saturday (June 1) at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
Toscano, who hit career highs earlier in the decade with millionaires Chapter Seven, Market Share and Heston Blue Chip, once again has a shot at a million-dollar prize as she heads towards the Pepsi North America Cup with Best In Show off the heels of retiring Walner, who was considered the Hambletonian favorite in 2017, due to injury.
“Walner broke my heart — I thought I had the best trotter in the world,” Toscano said. “We kind of danced around a bit since then. We’ve had a couple of nice horses, but for the most part I’ve had some pretty nice trotters recently and I haven’t had a nice pacing colt in a while, so this will be fun.”
Best In Show, a homebred son of Bettor’s Delight for Richard and Joanne Young out of their millionaire mare Put On A Show, has only six starts on his record — three as a 2-year-old and three so far this season. However, Toscano and the Youngs decided to send Best In Show to Tony O’Sullivan for his freshman season.
“I just had a lot of horses,” Toscano said. “I broke him, trained him and having one Ontario-sired horse that had to race [in the Sires Stakes] was a hard thing for me to do and try to do it right. We talked about it, the owner and I, and he didn’t really want to ship him back and forth.
“We had a horse or two with Tony before and he felt comfortable with Tony, so I was fine with that — Tony does a good job — so we shipped him up to Tony to race for us.”
Off two races in early July, Best In Show shipped north and debuted in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division, where he finished fourth behind Bettor’s Wish, who recently won the $300,000 Art Rooney, and Stag Party, who went on to win the Metro Pace. He then won a preliminary of the Dream Maker series and finished second in the final.
Rookie soreness developed and prompted Toscano to shut him down for the year by late August.
“He was kind of following the plan exactly as we had hoped it was going to go, but then he just came up sore after that last start,” Toscano said. “I was up there for the Grand Circuit and went over him and made a decision that he was a quality horse and we thought we’d just shut him down and bring him back this year.”
The colt has since grown and developed enough to the point that the travel is no longer a concern.
“He certainly didn’t have a clue last year training down, and that’s still an issue; he’s a green colt,” Toscano noted. “He’s come a long way considering he’s on a bit of a slow learning curve. I find with those Bettor’s Delights that’s kind of the best part about them: they have good mouths and that Cam Fella line tends to get better and better.
“The shipping is a funny thing. Back in the day, we didn’t ship horses — we shipped them to the place and they stayed. Nowadays, the trailers are much more sophisticated, the roads are great, we know the traffic patterns for the most part and horses are used to shipping. Bottom line is, if he had been a difficult horse to ship — if he’d been fractious or anything like that — he’d be here.”
Toscano isn’t sure she will continue to ship Best In Show back and forth each week from her base in New Jersey.
“If he does really well I might stay up there next week and go that route, so I’m going to take it week to week and decide what to do.”
Best In Show will start from post four in his division of the Somebeachsomewhere, carded as race six, with Bob McClure driving. He again faces Bronx Seelster and Stag Party, both of whom he beat last week with a career best-equaling 1:50.3 mile in a C$108,800 Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division.
“With the field he’s in against this week, he deserves a shot because he had a conditioning edge on those two colts last week. I knew that going in,” Toscano said. “I knew this was a week he was going to beat them and I had a funny feeling he was going to have to do it on the lead, because I figured Casie [Coleman] wasn’t going to want to race [Stag Party] down the road and I figured the same with Bronx Seelster. Now you throw Captain Ahab into the mix, and that’s a pretty solid field of 3-year-olds right there. If he can go with these then he deserves a shot at [the North America Cup].”
Toscano has approached Best In Show’s campaign going week to week, but the North America Cup has always been the goal for the inexperienced colt.
“I think [that’s] probably the case but you’ll never get me to admit those kind of things,” Toscano said with a laugh. “That’s not who I am. I just try hard to let the horse tell me what to do and, God willing, he’ll come out of it good and we’ll take it to next week.”
Post time for Saturday’s card at Woodbine Mohawk Park is 7:10 p.m.