East Rutherford, NJ — What a week for trainer Linda Toscano.
On Sunday evening (July 7), the trainer gave a gracious acceptance speech at her induction into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., and on Saturday night (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 is 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 toteboard.
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 lifetime 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 in winning the Pace as a homebred for owners Richard Young and Joanne Young. He turned in a pair of second-place finishes in his previous two starts, an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold and his Pace elimination behind Bettor’s Wish.
Keeping Pace: All-source wagering on the 13-race program totaled $4,044,303, the sixth time in the last seven years that Meadowlands Pace Night betting surpassed the $4-million mark. … The driving stars were out in force as 10 of the races on the card were won by Dave Miller (three), Tim Tetrick (three), Yannick Gingras (two) and Sears (two). … There were a pair of 50-Cent Pick-4s on the program and they both took big action. The Pick-4 that began in Race six took in a 2019-best $146,229, while the Late Pick-4 (Races 10-13) saw a total pool of $122,070. … Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.