After Market Share won the Hambletonian Stakes last year, trainer
"I said please don't let him be a one-hit wonder," Toscano said, laughing.
Toscano's fears were put to rest in the following weeks as Market Share won the Canadian Trotting Classic, Zweig Memorial, American-National, and Galt stakes on his way to being named the Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter and finishing second to stablemate for Horse of the Year.
On Saturday, the 4-year-old trotter will try to add to his list of accomplishments by winning the C$543,000 Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. Market Share, starting from post eight in an eight-horse field, is the 4-5 morning line favorite with driving.
Market Share last raced June 21 when he won the third round of the TVG Free For All Championship Series for trotters by a half-length over Uncle Peter in 1:51.1 at the Meadowlands. His only other race this year came on May 31 when he won the FFA Handicap at the Big M by three-quarters of a length in 1:51.1.
To get ready for the Maple Leaf Trot, Market Share raced in a qualifier on July 13 at the Meadowlands, winning by 5-1/2 lengths over Uncle Peter in 1:50.3. The time equaled the fastest mile of the year by any trotter.
"Unfortunately we haven't been able to get him as many starts as we'd like," Toscano said. "I was forced to qualify him, but he's great. He's actually real sharp as evidenced by his qualifier. When he gets a little bit of a break he's been really good so I don't think it's going to affect him. I think he's ready to roll."
The Maple Leaf field includes 2012 winner Mister Herbie, who captured the event in a stakes-record 1:50.4. Mister Herbie, starting from post two, is the 5-2 second choice with driving for trainer .
Also in the race is the -trained duo of Uncle Peter and Guccio. Uncle Peter, who is 8-1 on the morning line, set the world record for trotting on a five-eighths-mile track when he won the preferred handicap in 1:50.3 on June 29 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. He has won three of eight races this year and finished no worse than third in any start.
Arch Madness, who was second to Uncle Peter in his world-record performance and finished second in the Elitlopp in May in Sweden, is the 5-1 third choice. The 9-year-old gelding is winless in seven starts, but has earned $202,327 this season. For his career, he has won 31 of 96 starts and banked $3.92 million.
Maxie Lee Memorial winner Wishing Stone also is in the Maple Leaf Trot.
"I think it's an incredibly deep group of trotters this year," Toscano said. "I think that any horse is capable of winning the race. I'm leery of Uncle Peter and Guccio is always finishing at the end of the mile. Mister Herbie has shown his class and Arch Madness is an amazing, amazing animal. I just absolutely smile every time I see him on the racetrack. He just keeps going; he's like the Energizer bunny. He just goes forever."
Market Share, owned by Richard Gutnick, TLP Stable and Bill Augustine, raced from April into November last year, winning 10 of 20 races and earning $2 million. He finished worse than third only twice.
"I just never dreamed (last year) he was this kind of horse so I wanted to get the early money because I knew the bears were going to come," Toscano said. "He just kind of evolved into the horse he is today.
"About halfway through last year he started to get it and he started to get very racy. That's held through to this year. He's just a good feeling, easy horse to be around. I don't know if he knows he's good or not, but he really enjoys his work. To me, that's the No. 1 thing for a horse. I've been very fortunate over the last couple years and trained some good horses and they all seem to enjoy their work."
Market Share's late start to this year was by design, and takes into account the connection's plan to race the trotter as a 5-year-old.
"It's not a one-year plan," Toscano said. "I planned kind of the same schedule that we did with last year. I had to start a little bit later with him because he raced so late into (last) year and started so early. I wanted him to have a good rest and I wanted to try to build momentum for the bigger and more premier races at the end of the year."
All as Market Share tries to add to his string of hits.
by Ken Weingartner