by Frank Carulli
October 2, 2018
Linda Toscano added to her Hall of Fame resume when she sent out two winners on the New York Night of Champions card recently at Yonkers Raceway. Toscano, the first woman ever to train a Hambletonian winner (Market Share, 2012), continues to excel with 3-year-olds, winning the colt/gelding trot with Helpisontheway (Jim Morrill Jr., $3.50) and the pace with Rockapelo ($11.40).
Helpisontheway followed live cover provided by 50-1 longshot Purpose Blue Chip, who finished third, and won by 2-1/4 lengths for his seventh victory this year after making only one visit to the winner's circle in 2017. "Last year, he was immature. Some 2-year-olds just don't get it," said Toscano. "The ability was there. He just needed to figure it out."
Rockapelo avoided an early traffic jam caused by erratic favorite Springsteen and won by 4-1/2-lengths in 1:53.1 in what amounted to a three-horse race after the field was scattered. The win pushed the track's leading driver, Jason Bartlett, over the $100 million mark in career earnings.
Favorites dominated throughout the card that featured eight sire stakes finals worth $225,000 each. Winndevie won the 2yo filly trot in 1:59 even though trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer said the 1-to-5 favorite "wasn't at her best." Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, $2.20) remained perfect in seven starts with a 1:56.3 win in the 2yo colt/gelding trot. Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt, $2.20), who recently trotted to a Yonkers track record, continued dominant among the 3yo fillies. Wisdom Tree (Tim Tetrick, $2.50) improved to 11-14 when she won the 3yo pace in 1:53.2.
Moneyshot Hanover (Tyler Buter, $10) won a head-bobbing finish over So Awesome to become 2yo filly champion.
Reigning Deo rallied from third-over to spring a 20-1 upset in the 2yo colt/gelding pace, completing a driving double for Morrill Jr.
Yonkers will now prepare to host the $1 million International Trot next Saturday, Oct. 13. The world-class trotters expected to start in the 1-1/4-mile International are: Arazi Boko (Italy), Ariana G (United States), Cruzado Dela Noche (Sweden), Dreammoko (Netherlands), Lionel (Norway), Marion Marauder (Canada), Pastore Bob (Sweden), Ringostarr Treb (Italy), Slide So Easy (Denmark) and Up and Quick (France).