11/08/2012 1:17PM

Harness racing: Chapter Seven calls it a career in American National at Balmoral

Lisa Photo
Chapter Seven is tied for the fastest trotting mile (1:50 1/5) ever.

The last line in Chapter Seven’s brilliant racing career will be written at Balmoral Park in Saturday night’s $180,000 American-National older trot.

Victorious in seven of nine starts this year, second in both losses and rated No. 1 in North America by the Hambletonian/Breeders Crown standardbred poll, Chapter Seven is literally a horse for the record books.

The 4-year-old was timed in under 1:51 in four of those 2012 triumphs, an unprecedented feat for a trotter, and his best effort, 1:50 1/5 in the Nat Ray Invitational at the Meadowlands, equaled the fast mile ever trotted on a one-mile track.

“Sadly for me this will be his last start,” said Linda Toscano, who trains Chapter Seven for Richard Gutnick, Southwind Farm and J &T Silva Stables.  “Then, he’s going to stand stud at Blue Chip Farms in New York.

“He was a career-changing horse for me and he has gotten better as he has gotten older. He’s stronger, healthier and sounder.”

Chapter Seven flaunts a 27-race career resume of 19 victories, 4 seconds and 1 third.

“I put his first harness on him,” Toscano reminisced. “He was a funny horse because initially he made noises when we were breaking him and it required two throat surgeries to correct the problem. Then, he jumped a fence and he took stitches.

“We gave him lots of time to get better. I didn’t break him till mid-February of his 2-year-old year. He qualified just about the end of the Meadowlands meeting and we never raced him there. We took him to Freehold where he raced very well. Briefly, he had a track record (for a 2-year-old trotter on a half-mile track). We took him to the Matron (at Dover Downs) at the end of the year and he won it.

“Between his 2-year-old and 3-year-old years he got sick; he had bronchial pneumonia. We got him back to the races and he had an amazing 3-year-old year in spite of the fact that he was always battling that illness. He was never 100%.

“The closest he came to being as good as he could be was in the Breeders Crown (3-year-old colt trot) at the end of the year. When he won it I felt I was vindicated—he proved he was the kind of horse that I thought he was. We shut him down and brought him back this year and right from the get-go he was a completely different horse.”

There are eight American-National championship races on Saturday’s card and, coming off a Breeders Crown older trot triumph, Chapter Seven at odds of 3-5 is the heaviest morning line favorite. With Tim Tetrick in the sulky, he will leave from post-position 5 in a six-horse race.

“He’s probably the best I’ve ever driven,” said Tetrick, the leading driver in money-earned this year. “In the Breeders Crown he was parked (trotting second) every step for three quarters and he went outside and won.”

Tetrick will be driving two other heavy morning line favorites in the American-National races: 8-5 choice Market Share for Toscano in the $235,000 3-year-old colt and gelding trot and even-money favorite American Jewel for trainer Jimmy Takter in the $145,000 3-year-old filly pace.

This year Tetrick has driven the winners of three races of $1 million or more and two of his conquests have come in collaboration with Market Share, the $1.5 million Hambletonian and the C$1 million Canadian Trotting Classic.

But when Market Share returned to Woodbine for the Breeders Crown two weeks ago he finished second behind Intimidate in the elimination after taking the lead in the stretch and third behind the same trotter in the championship during which he was 1 ½ lengths in front at the half-mile call.

“The other horse was monstrous in both races but my horse would much rather track horses than be on the lead,” said Toscano. “His style of racing is following cover and sliding off cover.”

The morning line choices in the other American-Nationals on the 13-race card:

Foiled Again, projected at 8-5 when he attempts to defend his title in the $182,000 older pace and add to his record lifetime earnings of $4,621,468; Maven at 6-5 in the $130,000 3-year-old filly trot; Hurricane Kingcole is 7-2 in the $260,000 3-year-old colt and gelding pace; Blatantly Best (5-2) in the $157,000 2-year-old colt and gelding pace; and Always About Katey at 7-5 in the $113,000 2-year-old filly pace.