SPORTS

Toscano, Market Share aim to cap season to remember with Breeders Crown win

10/23/2012 05:41 EDT | Updated 12/23/2012 05:12 EST
VAUGHAN, Ont. - It has been quite a year for Market Share and trainer Linda Toscano.

The American-bred three-year-old captured both the $1.5-million Hambletonian and $1-million Canadian Trotting Classic this season, with Market Share's Hambletonian victory making Toscano the first female trainer to win harness racing's most coveted title.

Market Share has won eight of 17 starts this season and banked a whopping $1.7 million, which is tops in North America. The son of Revenue S will look to end a dominant 2012 campaign in the winner's circle Saturday night at the US$6.2-million Breeders Crown, the richest horse-racing event in Canada.

Market Share, with American driver Tim Tetrick, headlines the field for the $555,000 three-year-old colt trot at Woodbine Racetrack, which for the second straight year will stage all 12 championship finals.

The post-position draw for the three-year-old colt trot was held Tuesday at WEGZ Stadium Bar, with forward James van Riemsdyk of the Toronto Maple Leafs serving as guest drawmaster. The post positions for the other Crown finals had already been determined.

"You can't dream this big," Toscano said. "I'm a fan of Oprah and Oprah used to say, 'God dreams bigger than you can dream for yourself,' and this is a classic case and point.

"You work at this your whole life, you do it because you love the horse and you don't do it necessarily because you're trying but when a year like this comes together you might as well enjoy it because you don't know what's around the corner.''

Toscano knows that firsthand.

In 2004, the 57-year-old Brooklyn native was diagnosed with breast cancer. Toscano underwent a year of treatment — two surgeries along with chemotherapy and radiation — and five years of taking tamoxifen, a medicine used to treat breast cancer.

Fortunately for Toscano, she has been cancer-free ever since.

"You really hate to bring attention to everything but the truth of the matter is I am a cancer survivor," Toscano said. "Early detection is a really, really important part of it, I'm living proof of that.

"I swore when I got diagnosed and treated I would take life one day at a time because we always put ourselves last. Anything I can do to get it to the forefront that it's really important for women take care of their health, do the (mammograms) and get checked because early detection can save lives.''

Market Share was installed as the 2-1 early favourite despite losing to Intimidate in their elimination race last weekend. Market Share will go from post No. 8 in the 10-horse field. Intimidate, the 5-2 second choice, will go from post No. 3 while Little Brown Fox, the 3-1 second choice, drew the No. 4 spot.

"It (elimination loss) is a concern because we had to sweat out the post position and it's always nice going into that kind of race knowing where your horse is going to be," Toscano said. "My horse raced really well, I take nothing away from the horse that beat him, he was flat-out flying finishing and he's a very good horse.

"The best part about Market Share is he's very versatile. With an outside post he has enough gate speed that he can get himself into the race. More important than where we're going to stack up it's where everyone else is going to stack up.''

Sylvain Filion of Milton, Ont., drove Intimidate in the elimination race but committed to Prestidigitator for the final. So trainer and co-owner Luc Blais secured American Ron Pierce to drive Intimidate in Saturday's final.

“He (Pierce) drove him in the Simcoe (when finishing second, a neck behind Little Brown Fox, Sept. 1 at Mohawk) and said he had a good feeling about the horse,” said Blais. “He came and saw me before the (Breeders Crown) elimination and said, ‘If you need a driver (for the final), I want to drive that horse. I like that horse.' ”

Market Share is one of four horses Toscano will have racing Saturday. Bettors Edge and Heston Blue Chip are both 9-2 early selections in the $546,897 three-year-old colt pace while Chapter Seven is the 6-5 morning-line favourite in the $591,240 open trot.

Chapter Seven won the three-year-old colt trot event at last year's Breeders Crown event.

"They're all good,'' Toscano said. "I'm happy with Market Share's effort even though we lost and Chapter Seven is coming into it as good as I can have him at this point.

"No one pays attention to Betters Edge, I feel like he's the Rodney Dangerfield of harness racing because he gets no respect. He shows up every single week, he makes all of his finals while Heston Blue Chip is an underrated good horse. They're tired at this point, they've been going for a long time these three-year-olds and I'm just hoping my horses maybe are a hair fresher going into it.''

Since 1984, John Campbell of Ailsa Craig, Ont., leads all drivers with 45 Crown victories and more than $20 million in earnings. Jimmy Takter, a Swede now based in the U.S., leads all trainers with 12 wins and $6.3 million in earnings.

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