07/04/2012 10:04AM

Meadowlands: Heston Blue Chip looks tough in Pace elimination

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Ken Weingartner
Heston Blue Chip looks for his 16th win in his 18th start in his Meadowlands Pace elimination.

Trainer Linda Toscano has already proven this year what patience and planning can accomplish in the horse racing business. On Saturday she’s hopeful that the timing is just right again when she sends out Heston Blue Chip in one of two $50,000 eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace at New Meadowlands.

Carded as race six on the 13-race program, Heston Blue Chip’s division appears a little lighter than the first division, which includes Sweet Lou, A Rocknroll Dance and record-setting Hurrikane Kingcole.

But that’s not how the trainer sees it. “I know people have been saying he’s in the easier division but we’re in with Bob McIntosh’s horse (Thinking Out Loud the winner of the $1.5 million North America Cup) and Bolt The Duer,” Toscano said.

Also in this division is Rooney winner Pet Rock and North America Cup runner-up Time To Roll.

Of the 16 horses entered in the two Meadowlands Pace eliminations, Heston Blue Chip is the lone stakes horse that is undefeated in 2012. The son of American Ideal, owned by Ken Jacobs, has been a force on the New York Sire Stakes circuit. He’s captured three restricted events in New York and set his career best at Tioga in a division of the Historic. That mile was paced in 1:49 2/5.

Yet entering the Meadowlands Pace, Heston Blue Chip is breaking new ground. He did face mixed company on a few occasions as a freshman, but his connections decided to take a safe path to this race. “We wanted to brave him up,” said Toscano. “I think he’s got the speed and the determination.”

Last Friday at Yonkers he was an easy winner in a $113,413 division of the New York Sire Stakes for driver Tim Tetrick but didn’t look as impressive as some of the others on the card. “I think the heat was getting to a lot of these horses,” said Toscano. “I also didn’t train him up to that race the way I have for the Meadowlands Pace.”

Heston Blue Chip looks for his 16th career win in just his 18th trip to the post on Saturday.

There are no easy races at the top level of the three-year-old pacing class. Toscano believes this is a deep group of horses and any can pop up on a given week to take the prize. Her stable has two colts looking for spots in the final with Bettors Edge, another New York-bred with talent in the first division.

“He got stuck behind Warrawee Needy in the North America Cup final and that compromised his chances. He came back strongly to win (a New York Sire Stakes) at Vernon,” said Toscano.

Bettors Edge doesn’t have the resume of his stablemate, but Toscano is very confident that he can go with the big boys.

“I think this horse is going to make a lot of money this year,” Toscano said.

A winner of but one race in 11 starts as a juvenile, the Brittany Farms and Val D’or Farms homebred has won twice in five trips this year. He drew the pole position in the $50,000 fifth race Meadowlands Pace elimination.

Trainer Toscano considers herself fortunate to have teamed with Tim Tetrick as a regular driver for much of her stock.

“Tim does a great job. He tries to take care of the horses and leave me something for next week,” said Toscano.

While Toscano does have numbers, this year’s Meadowlands Pace may prove to be the most contentious in quite some time. Sweet Lou, a beaten favorite in the North America Cup, has trained back strongly for this event. The draw was again kind to the son of Yankee Cruiser who starts from post two in the fifth-race division. Once again Dave Palone has the driving assignment.

A Rocknroll Dance regained his winning form in last week’s Hempt final at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and returns to the big track where he was last seen getting upset in the New Jersey Sire Stakes final. Yet it is clear that the son of Rocknroll Hanover has needed time to get his act together and he couldn’t be peaking at a better time. A Rocknroll Dance landed post five with regular pilot Yannick Gingras listed to drive.

With Tetrick opting for Bettors Edge Hempt beaten favorite Hurrikane Kingcole will pick up George Brennan from post eight in the fifth race elimination. Brennan, known for making extreme speed, could be the perfect pilot for the sometimes erratic but extremely talented son of Cams Card Shark.

Brennan also gets teamed with another speedy but as yet unproven colt in Mel Mara in the second division. Last week the colt from the first crop of champion Lis Mara took a 1:49 1/5 mark in an overnight event at The Meadowlands. This week the Tony Alagna trainee drew a good spot in post four but meets a stellar field.

The top five finishers in each of the two $50,000 Meadowlands Pace eliminations will qualify for the $600,000 final on July 14.