Trainer Linda Toscano has shot to win the Meadowlands Pace
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Linda Toscano will try to become the first female trainer to win the Meadowlands Pace when Heston Blue Chip takes on nine rivals in the track's signature race on Saturday night.
The track's all-time leading female trainer, Toscano has a real chance at winning with Heston Blue Chip. The colt has won all five of his starts this year and posted the fastest winning time in the two eliminations last weekend, stopping the timer at 1:49 in beating North American Cup winner Thinking Out Loud.
Heston Blue Chip has been made the 7-2 second choice in the $600,000 race behind Sweet Lou, last year's 2-year-old pacing champion who won the other elimination in 1:49 1-5.
Tim Tetrick will drive Heston Blue Chip, who has won 16 of 18 career starts.
"Right from the beginning, (this) was the race we were trying to point him to and get him as sharp as we could for," Toscano said. "We elected not to do the Rooney or the North America Cup and to keep our eye on the ball and just try to have a fresh horse coming into this race. Hopefully, it will work out."
Toscano has started two other 3-year-olds in the Meadowlands Pace. Kenneth J finished fourth in 2007, while Share The Delight was third the following year.
Sweet Lou will be hard to beat. The Dave Palone-driven colt has won four of five races this year. His only loss came in the $1.5 million North America Cup in Canada, when he was fourth as the heavy favorite.
Palone surpassed Herve Filion for the most driving victories in North American harness racing history, and he capped the week by guiding Sweet Lou to a neck-length victory over A Rocknroll Dance in the other elimination.
Co-owner Larry Karr, a corporate lawyer from Randolph, N.J., likes Sweet Lou's chances.
"I'm trying to go into this with a very good attitude and not be too anxious about it," Karr said. "We're in the best barn in North America, we've got the winningest driver in the history of North America and we've got, I think, still the best horse. That's a good combination. That's usually a recipe for good things to happen."
Heston Blue Chip and Sweet Lou will start right next to each other. Toscano's colt will have the No. 3 post with Sweet Lou to the outside of him.
A Rocknroll Dance drew the inside No. 1 post for driver Yannick Gingras. The colt is the 4-1 third choice. Thinking Out Loud, who will be driven by Randy Waples, was made the 5-1 fourth choice after drawing the No. 7 post position.
Here is the field for the Meadowlands Pace from the No. 1 post out :with colt, driver and odds:
A Rocknroll Dance, Gingras, 4-1; Pet Rock, Brian Sears, 12-1; Heston Blue Chip, Tetrick, 7-2; Sweet Lou, Palone, 5-2; Bolt The Duer, Mark MacDonald, 6-1; Simply Business, Ron Pierce, 15-1; Thinking Out Loud, Waples, 5-1; State Treasurer, David Miller, 20-1; Time To Roll, Andy Miller, 12-1; Allstar Legend, Jim Morrill Jr., 20-1.
The 47-year-old Waples will try to join his dad, Ron, as a winning Meadowlands Pace driver. His father won in 1983 with Ralph Hanover.
Thinking Out Loud also will try to become the ninth pacer in history to win both the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace. The most recent was Well Said in 2009.
"These are special races," Randy Waples said. "They just don't get any bigger than these races. Last year I finished second in the Hambletonian and this year I won the North America Cup and I'm getting to race in the Meadowlands Pace. I think that's more what it is with me: Being able to race in these kinds of races. It's always great to win them, but you've got to go into them with a clear head and realize there are nine other guys trying to beat you."
Post time is scheduled for 10:15 p.m.