Updated on 09/16/2011 8:53AM

The Toccet way: Race early and often

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - In an era when 2-year-olds are campaigned sparingly in the months after the Breeders' Cup, Toccet has set a different standard this fall.

One of the nation's leading 2-year-olds, Toccet has been more active since he finished ninth in the Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park on Oct. 26 than at any time in his career.

In November, he won two stakes - the Laurel Futurity on Nov. 16 and the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct two weeks later. On Saturday, he makes his eighth career start, and fifth consecutive appearance in a stakes, in the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park.

Overall, Toccet has won 5 of 7 starts and $511,710. Some 3-year-olds do not have that much experience coming into the Kentucky Derby, which is the goal that owner-breeder Daniel Borislow and trainer John Scanlan have set for Toccet.

How they will get there remains to be seen.

Scanlan is so content with Toccet's condition that he is reluctant to give the colt too much time off in coming months. Conversely, Scanlan realizes that a break is necessary to allow Toccet to be at his best for the Triple Crown and the vital preps run in March and April.

"After this race, I'm hoping to give him some time and try to keep him on the ground," Scanlan said. "He's never gotten tired or balked at anything. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

By Awesome Again, Toccet won his maiden at Laurel on Aug. 16, in his second start. Borislow was so impressed that he phoned Adena Springs Farm in Kentucky, where Awesome Again stands, to relay news of the victory.

"I said, 'You've got to watch this horse,' " Borislow recalled. "He's an amazing horse.

"We knew pretty much early on. We never knew he'd be this good. But I had the Kentucky Derby on my mind when he broke his maiden."

Toccet's success has led Borislow to change his thinking about the way juveniles are campaigned. In the past, Borislow was certain that fewer starts was better.

"When I started running this horse, I went back and looked at the great 3-year-olds from the 1970's," he said. "All of those great 3-year-olds had a huge base at 2. I kind of turned myself around. If you have a horse that's healthy and thrives on racing, I think it's a good combination."

As a May foal, Toccet has surprised Borislow and Scanlan with his durability and zest for racing.

"He's definitely physically immature," Borislow said. "That's what makes it all the more amazing. He doesn't have any nicks and scratches."

Racing history is full of 2-year-olds who failed to make an impact on the bigger stage at 3.

Stretching Toccet's success into a 3-year-old campaign is foremost on Scanlan's mind.

In early December, Scanlan said that Toccet would be based in California over the winter. But on Wednesday, he said that Toccet will be based in Maryland this winter and be pointed for races such as the Gotham Stakes and Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

The New York circuit is familiar territory to the well-traveled Toccet, who gained a following in late summer and early fall.

Following an emphatic victory in an allowance race at Pimlico Sept. 6, Toccet pulled a 9-1 upset in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, jumping into the picture of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

The biggest race of the year for the division turned out to be Toccet's worst performance. Drawn on the outside in the field of 13, Toccet raced wide in mid-pack to the middle of the backstretch before fading to finish ninth, 16 lengths behind Vindication.

Scanlan is convinced that the poor draw eliminated Toccet.

"We probably should have scratched," Scanlan said. "It was the kiss of death. No one wins outside of post 7 at Arlington going a mile and an eighth."

While many leading 2-year-olds were put away for the year after the Juvenile, Toccet's campaign continued. He won the Laurel Futurity over a sloppy track by 6 1/4 lengths and kept that form to beat Bham and Empire Maker in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.

Racing near the lead in the Remsen, Toccet pulled away in early stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Bham, with Empire Maker third of eight.

Even then, some owners and trainers would have called it a year, but Borislow, 41, and Scanlan, 52, say that Toccet is ready for more.

"He's so full of himself," Scanlan said. "I've got other maidens that are nice. They won allowance races and they had problems. Even though he's a May foal, he hasn't had any growing pains."

Toccet is the best horse that Borislow and Scanlan have campaigned. In 2001, they started Talk Is Money in the Kentucky Derby, following a third-place finish in the Flamingo Stakes. Talk Is Money finished last.

"Talk Is Money had tons of talent, but he didn't have the wheels," Scanlan said.

Borislow has not been shy in expressing his support for Toccet. He publicly challenged the owner of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Vindication to a side bet on the Hollywood Futurity. The idea failed to gain momentum because Vindication did not stay in serious training following the the Breeders' Cup. The two colts will not have a rematch until the spring.

Still, it was a reflection of how far the flamboyant Borislow will go in support of his up-and-coming horse.

"I don't think he's gotten the recognition that he should have gotten," Borislow said of Toccet. "He improves with each race. There's nothing like this. You can't imagine how great it is."

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