Day At The Track

Mister Herbie and Chapter Seven rematch

09:59 PM 01 Aug 2012 NZST
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Mister Herbie Linda Toscano training Chapter Seven
Mister Herbie
Photo courtesy of New Image Media
Linda Toscano training Chapter Seven - at Showplace Farms
Photo Courtesy of USTA Photos-Mark Hall

Harness racing's top-ranked older trotters -- Chapter Seven and Mister Herbie -- are ready to renew acquaintances in Saturday's $250,000 Nat Ray Invitational at the Meadowlands Racetrack as part of a star-studded Hambletonian Day card.

Mister Herbie won the first meeting between the two 4-year-olds, capturing the $742,500 Maple Leaf Trot by three-quarters of a length over Chapter Seven in a Canadian-record 1:50.4 on July 21 at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. Mister Herbie, who is ranked No. 6 in the sport's most recent Top 10 poll, is trained by Jeff Gillis and driven by Jody Jamieson -- the same duo that will send out Knows Nothing in the $1.5 million Hambletonian two races after the Nat Ray.

Chapter Seven, who is No. 5 in the Top 10 poll, is trained by Linda Toscano and driven by Tim Tetrick, which is the same duo that will send out Market Share in the Hambletonian.

Trainer Jimmy Takter won the Nat Ray and the Hambletonian on the same day in 1997, winning the Nat Ray with Moni Maker and the Hambletonian with Malabar Man.

Mister Herbie has won five of seven races this year, including the Glorys Comet at Woodbine and the Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands, and earned $602,375 for Gillis, who owns the horse with Gerald Stay and Mac Nichol. Mister Herbie, a gelded son of Here Comes Herbie-Independent Lassie, has won 15 of 31 career races and earned $928,270.

"I think he's coming in pretty good," said Gillis, who was Canada's Trainer of the Year in 2011. "He raced well in the Maple Leaf Trot off a long layoff and now he's coming back on 14 days. He's been at Mark Ford's training center (in upstate New York) for a week and I think he's doing real well."

Prior to the Maple Leaf Trot, Mister Herbie's previous start was a sixth-place finish in the Earl Rowe at Georgian Downs on May 26. He prepped with a 1:52.3 qualifier on July 6 at Mohawk; a time that was a Canadian record for a trotting qualifier.

In the Maple Leaf Trot, Chapter Seven moved to the lead on the backstretch while Mister Herbie sat in sixth place. Chapter Seven led the field through three-quarters of a mile in 1:22.3, a track record, at which point Mister Herbie was three wide and surging into the stretch. Mister Herbie trotted :27.2 for his final quarter-mile to get the victory.

"I would consider it special," Gillis said about the performance. "It's certainly special to me.

"He's a horse that just makes you feel confident all the time. He overcomes virtually anything you throw at him. We never feel like we're an underdog with him."

Chapter Seven, owned by Richard Gutnick, Southwind Farm and J&T Silva Stables, has won two of three races this year. His victories came in identical 1:50.4 world-record performances at the Meadowlands; first in the Titan Cup prep and next in the Titan Cup final on June 29.

Over his last eight starts dating back to October, Chapter Seven has posted six wins and two second-place finishes, with one of the victories coming in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine. For his career, the son of Windsong's Legacy-La Riviera Lindy has won 14 of 21 races and earned $1.23 million. He finished fourth in last year's Hambletonian.

"He was three weeks between starts at the Maple Leaf Trot and maybe that hurt him, or maybe it didn't," said Toscano, who is based in New Jersey, approximately an hour south of the Meadowlands. "I think he's always really good when he's fresh. It's hard to say when you get beat on the wire in (Canadian) record time that your horse raced bad.

"I think he came out of that race really well and he'll be back on his home turf and we have a rematch. Hopefully he'll go out there and do what I know he can."

If nothing else, Toscano is happy to see Chapter Seven continuing his career rather than heading to stallion duty.

"I think it's great for 4-year-olds to come back," she said. "I really think the horses should be the heroes. I'd like to see these older horses get going again. I think if a horse develops a fan base it can only help harness racing."

by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

Courtesy of the US Trotting Association's Web Newsroom


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