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Harness Racing: Chapter Seven is quickly making history
When it comes to trotting fast miles, no one in history has done it better -- or more often -- than Chapter Seven.
Chapter Seven’s 1:50.2 victory in the Allerage Farms Trot on Oct. 7 at Lexington’s Red Mile was the 4-year-old horse’s fourth sub-1:51 winning mile of the year. In the history of harness racing, only one other trotter has won multiple times in less than 1:51: Vivid Photo, who as a 4-year-old won the 2006 Patriot Invitational in 1:50.2 at Colonial Downs in Virginia and exactly a year later won the event again in 1:50.4.
Colonial Downs is a one-turn mile oval known for its speed. In 2008, Enough Talk won the Patriot Invitational there in 1:49.3, the only sub-1:50 victory by a trotter in history. Chapter Seven is the only trotter to win multiple times in less than 1:51 on a traditional two-turn mile racetrack, or five-eighths-mile oval.
“He’s an amazing horse,” trainer Linda Toscano said. “He really is. I wish I could tell you (how he does it). I don’t have any answers. He’s not a hard horse to keep tight; that probably helps him. He’s holding his weight really well this year. As long as I can keep him healthy and keep him sound, he just loves what he does.”
Chapter Seven, driven this season by Tim Tetrick, has won six of eight races this year and finished second in the other two starts while earning $625,825 for owners Richard Gutnick, Southwind Farm and J&T Silva Stables. In his career, the son of Windsong’s Legacy-La Riviera Lindy has won 18 of 26 starts and earned $1.55 million.
His victories this season include the Nat Ray Invitational at the Meadowlands, where he won in 1:50.1 to equal the fastest mile ever trotted on a mile track. He also won the Titan Cup and Titan Cup prep with 1:50.4 miles.
One of his most impressive miles was actually his 1:51.1 win in the open at The Red Mile on Sept. 30. Chapter Seven, coming off a three-week layoff, won by 6-1/4 lengths over Arch Madness; he was 3-1/2 lengths behind Arch Madness at three-quarters.
“When he has a target, he loves it,” Toscano said. “He will chase down anything. People forget how good a horse Arch Madness is; he’s a great horse. I know he’s getting older and been dealing with some problems this year, but take nothing away from that horse. The way (Chapter Seven) just trotted past him, he just loves a target. Week after week I’m just in awe of this horse.”
Last year, Chapter Seven battled health issues on his way to five wins in 10 starts. He won four of his final five races (and was second in the other) including the Breeders Crown for 3-year-olds.
“When you believe in a horse, and everyone is like ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah; enough of the stories’ and no matter how many times I said it I don’t think people realized. This is a great horse,” Toscano said. “I think his start last year in the Breeders Crown was as close as he was to right, and he was dominant.”
Chapter Seven’s next start will come in the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. Eliminations, if necessary, are Oct. 20 and the final is Oct. 27. Following the Breeders Crown, the horse is eligible to the American-National Stakes on Nov. 10 at Balmoral Park, but Toscano will take a wait-and-see approach to racing.
“We’ll decide after the Breeders Crown,” Toscano said. “He’ll tell us. That’s the way we’ve done it this year. We’ve made every decision based on how he came out of the previous race. He came out of Lexington excellent and we’re heading to Canada.”
The same approach will be taken when deciding whether to race Chapter Seven at age 5 in 2013. Of course, Toscano is hopeful the horse returns to action.
“There are no decisions set in stone,” she said. “There are a lot of people interested in the horse, as well they should be.
“When am I going to get the chance to train a horse like him again? Every day I get up and pinch myself and I’m thankful that I have a horse like him to train.”
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