Heston Blue Chip could deliver a historic win in Saturday’s $600,000 Meadowlands Pace at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
A victory by the horse known around the barn as “Moses” would make Linda Toscano the first female trainer to win the prestigious event for 3-year-old pacers, give driver Tim Tetrick his third Pace triumph at the age of 30, and also provide owner Ken Jacobs his first win in the race.
Last weekend, Heston Blue Chip won his Meadowlands Pace elimination race by a half-length over North America Cup champion Thinking Out Loud in 1:49. He has won all five of his starts this season and 16 of 18 in his career.
Toscano, 57, is the all-time leading female trainer at the Meadowlands and has trained two previous Pace starters in Kenneth J, who was fourth in 2007, and Share The Delight, who was third in 2008.
“The woman thing, I really hate that,” Toscano has said. “It’s kind of like being the best Polish hockey player. That’s just how I feel. I’d rather be thought of as a good trainer than a good female trainer.
“I think that anybody that gets a horse at this level and gets them to this point, is looking to win this race. It’s so few and far between. It’s not like bananas, they don’t come in bunches, so I think that girl, man, child, whatever, if you have a horse at this caliber, you’ve kind of come a long way.”
Jacobs, who owned Kenneth J and is making his second start in a Meadowlands Pace final, has enjoyed a longstanding partnership with Toscano.
“She’s very special to me,” Jacobs said. “She’s not only my favorite trainer, she’s my favorite person. I’d love to win it for her.”
Jacobs also would like to win to erase the disappointment of Kenneth J’s setback in 2007. Kenneth J was in third place as the field entered the stretch, but encountered traffic trouble in the lane and finished fourth, two lengths behind Southwind Lynx, who shot through an opening on the rail to go from seventh to first and win in 1:49.1.
Heston Blue Chip’s driver, Tim Tetrick, piloted Southwind Lynx. It was the first of Tetrick’s two Pace victories; the other came with One More Laugh in 2010 and made Tetrick the first driver with two trophies prior to the age of 30.
“It was one of those racing luck scenarios, and we didn’t win that one,” Jacobs said about Kenneth J’s race. “We moved out and got blocked and [Tetrick] went right up where we were and won the race.
“Hopefully he’ll win this one for me,” Jacobs added with a laugh.
Jacobs, who selects all his horses and sends the top prospects to Toscano after Bob Bloodgood preps them in North Carolina, purchased Heston Blue Chip for $30,000 at the 2010 Standardbred Horse Sale. He is a son of American Ideal and the first foal out of the mare Shot Togo Bluechip.
Heston Blue Chip’s third dam is Katies Lucky Lady, who is the mother of stakes-winners Kikikatie, Just Wait Kate, Katies Western and Kiss Me Kate. Kikikatie was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old filly pacer in 2003. Just Wait Kate won the 2005 Jugette.
Last year, Heston Blue Chip won 11 of 13 races and earned $375,650. He finished second in his two defeats.
Among his victories was the $177,275 Matron Stakes at Dover Downs in his final start of the campaign. Heston Blue Chip won by three-quarters of a length over Allstar Legend in 1:50.4. The time set the stakes record, equaled the track record and was one-fifth of a second off the world record for 2-year-old colt pacers on a five-eighths-mile oval.
Heston Blue Chip also won the $175,000 New York Sire Stakes championship with a track-record 1:53.3 performance over a sloppy track at Saratoga Casino and Raceway.
“He’s just very special and you don’t know when he’s done with a race that he’s even raced,” Jacobs said. “He’s that type of horse. It’s pretty special to have that type of horse.”
Jacobs, who owns a company with multiple locations in upstate New York that distributes electric motors, drives, controls, motor parts and power transmission products, decided to keep Heston Blue Chip away from some of this season’s early major stakes to focus on the Meadowlands Pace.
Entering last weekend’s elims, the colt had three wins on the New York Sire Stakes circuit and a track-record 1:49.2 victory in the Historic Stakes at Tioga Downs.
“You can only have so many big races in a horse and I didn’t want to bottom him out in other races because I really wanted to win the Meadowlands Pace,” Jacobs said. “That’s my desire and I hope I’m successful next week.
“I know he’s a good horse and they don’t give us a lot of respect [coming out of] the New York Sire Stakes, but I knew he was a legitimate contender.”
Jacobs often renames horses after family members, such as Rita J after his wife. All the horses he renames have the distinctive “J” at the end of their names, including Kenneth J and Becca J, two of his previous standouts. Jacobs planned to rename Heston Blue Chip after one of his grandchildren, Brian, but was unable to get the name approved.
“There were too many Brians so they wouldn’t accept the name,” Jacobs said. “I like Charlton Heston, so I let it go. We call him Moses now.”
And if all goes well for Jacobs and the rest of Heston Blue Chip’s connections, he could deliver a memorable win on Saturday.
“I’ve won a lot of races, but this is one I haven’t won and I’d really like to win this one,” Jacobs said. “I know we have to beat Sweet Lou and the other eight horses, but I think we’re up to the task.”
[Pictured with Heston Blue Chip after his elimination win are caretaker Kim Foley, driver Tim Tetrick, trainer Linda Toscano and owner Ken Jacobs]
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